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Wembley Awaydaze
Thursday, 23rd May 2024 12:16 by Tim Whelan

As you probably know already, our play-off final against with Southampton kicks off at 3pm on Sunday. And if you didn’t manage to get your hands on a ticket, it’s live on Sky Sports.

Wembley has been designated as ‘public transport venue’, mainly because the new stadium is much larger than the one it replaced, so there is even less room to provide parking on-site. Unless you’ve already pre-booked parking at Wembley (at a cost of £40) don’t attempt to drive all the way to the stadium, as there is a residents-only parking zone covering a radius of one and a half miles around the stadium, which will be strictly enforced.

You could park at an outlying tube stations, the best option being Stamore at the end of the Jubilee line, which is less than two miles from junction 4 of the M1.The last time we came to these parts Wembley’s website recommended park at one of the following Chiltern Line railway stations - Warwick Parkway, Banbury, Bicester North , or High Wycombe, then getting the train to Wembley stadium station.

Another option would be to park at Milton Keynes central or Watford Junction stations and catch the train to Wembley Central. If you’re going the whole way by train you’ll need to get the metropolitan or jubilee line to Wembley Park, though an alternative is to walk from Kings Cross to Euston and get the stopping service to Wembley Central.

It goes without saying that food and drink inside the stadium will be ridiculously expensive. But there is always the excitement of the 'fan park' outside. This is a guide to the pubs that we have been asked to use on the day. Food-wise, there are quite a few takeaways along the High Road from Wembley Central, and close to Wembley Park tube station.

The new Wembley was originally due to be ready by 2006 (and was the centerpiece of England’s unsuccessful bid to host the World Cup that year) but in the event it wasn’t finally completed till a year later. Much of the delay was down to the bickering between a certain Ken Bates, (who was in charge of the project at one time) and the then sports minister Kate Hoey, who wanted the stadium to include a running track.

Bates wanted to incorporate all sorts of hotel and leisure facilities as part of the project, as a larger version of his Chelsea Village, but was removed from his post by the FA after the estimated costs started to run out of control. Thank god he never had time to go through with the similar plans he had to develop the land around Elland Road!

By the time the stadium was eventually completed it was well over budget, and at £798 million it was the most expensive stadium ever built! Hence the football authorities desire to stage as many games here as they can, in a desperate attempt to be able to pay for it all! Wembley’s official website has all sorts of interesting facts about the stadium. The footprint is 103,000 square metres, it is built from 212,000 tonnes of concrete, and it has 14 km of fibre optic cable.

There are 688 refreshment kiosks, though due to “the responsible sale of alcohol”, you are limited to two overpriced drinks per transaction. Thankfully there are 2,618 toilets, (more than any other venue in the world) which are in a much better condition than those we had to wade through at the old stadium. The sliding roof can cover the whole stadium, and that huge arch (which is bigger than the London Eye) helps to support the weight of the roof.

The stadium has a capacity of 90,000 (the largest in the world with every seat under cover) and our allocation is 36,462 tickets, with Southampton’s being slightly smaller at 35,667. The adult prices range from £37 to a whacking £105, and the relatively cheap seats are right up in the heavens, where you’re at such a high angle that at times it makes it difficult to judge what is happening on the pitch.

Most of the remaining 18,000 seats are in the corporate areas, the ones opposite the TV cameras that are usually empty. The FA made the executive parts of the stadium so large as another part of their efforts to claw back some of the huge amounts of money they spent in building the damn thing in the first place.

We have now sold out now that the process has gone through all three phases, and Southampton have also sold out their allocation. There have been rumours on social media that Leeds fans have been buying tickets in their sections, but to do so you would have to have bought a home ticket at St. Mary’s at some point during the last three years.

We have all been given a time slot when they would like us to reach the turnstiles to reduce the congestion, with mine being between 1 and 1.30. As an incentive to get there by that time the BBC weather site is currently forecasting thundery showers at Wembley for 2pm, so we would be advised to get under cover by then!

There is so much riding on this game that it will be impossible just to relax and enjoy the game, so we can but hope that all of this effort is worthwhile, and that by the time we are heading home Leeds will be back in the Premier League!

Tim Whelan

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