Final Say on Hosting the Big One

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO SPALL

THE Millennium Stadium will tomorrow host the FA Cup Final for the fifth and final time before it is scheduled to return home to the new Wembley next year.

Standard Sport went to the centre of Cardiff to find out whether the city has enjoyed having one of the world's most prestigious football matches - and the floods of fans it attracts - on its doorstep.

Martin Mears, who runs The City Arms pub: "There was a bit of trepidation at first but it has been brilliant having the FA Cup Final and the other football games here. Every time it is like a carnival and we have had minimal trouble. There are not even any incidents I can dredge up, and I would love to because I am a rugby man.

"I think they enjoy being able to drink right next to the ground and the fact the police stand back and let them enjoy it."

Robert Barker, owner of Barker's clothes shop: "I won't be disappointed to see the final go back to Wembley. You have to see what Cardiff city centre is like for the big football games to believe it.

Everybody is drunk and it is like being the only sober person at the party.

There is nowhere to park so no one comes into town. It doesn't just wreck business for independent traders like me, all the big stores suffer too.

"We just give the girls who work in the shop the day off because of the abuse they get. If you are a good looking girl it is a long day."

David Faull, Hilton Hotel operations manager: "You get people walking out of the bar and restaurant without paying on Cup Final day, but we have had very little trouble and will be disappointed to see the game go back to Wembley. We are having a lot of the Arsenal people stay with us this weekend - wives and families as well as corporate hospitality people.

"We will take about [pounds sterling]250,000 over the weekend. We maximise our revenues for the big games and because more people are in each room the average room rate goes up from [pounds sterling]160 to [pounds sterling]310."

Rob Roome, fire and security manager at the stadium: "It has been quite demanding having the Cup Final, in as far as there is a heck of a lot of planning involved. Everybody gets very excited but our philosophy is to be friendly but firm. We have had fans tell us that our stewards would not get jobs at their clubs because they have personalities!

"Overall, we have had very few problems but there have been one or two incidents when stewards have been hospitalised and Manchester United fans trashed half the stadium once. …

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