WEST HAM were dealt a hammer blow as the Premier League rejected their request to bring their game against Southampton forward to give fans time to watch the Women’s FA Cup final.
The Irons wanted to bring kick off on May 4 forward from 3pm to 12.30pm which would then give supporters the chance to dash across London to Wembley for a 5.30pm start.
West Ham’s ladies team have reached the FA Cup final for the first time – and in their first year as a professional team – and plenty of supporters no doubt wanted to see both their teams in action next weekend.
Matt Beard’s side beat Reading on penalties in the semi-final to set up a final date with favourites Manchester City.
But with the clash against Southampton confirmed to take place at 3pm, it will be impossible for fans to make the hour-long journey from the London Stadium in East London to the national stadium in the north-west of the capital in time.
It is understood the Premier League blocked the proposal because of the problems it could cause for travelling Southampton fans who have already made plans.
In a statement on the club website, West Ham said: “Despite the Club’s very best efforts, it was decided by the Premier League that it wouldn’t be possible due to the potential inconvenience caused to supporters who had already planned their journeys and purchased tickets.
“Therefore, the game will remain at the originally scheduled time of 3pm.
The women’s prize money is insulting and, making matters worse, neither club gets a penny of the gate receipts.Karren Brady
“West Ham United is naturally disappointed but would like to thank all of our loyal supporters and sincerely appreciates the fantastic backing they give to all who pull on the famous claret and blue.”
The Southampton game is West Ham’s final home match of the current season, Manuel Pellegrini’s first in charge, and a win is needed to realistically have any chance of securing a top-half finish.
But writing in her weekly SunSport column on Saturday, West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady addressed the gulf in prize money between the men’s and women’s FA Cups.
She said: “You may think there is a massive reward for winning but there isn’t.
“Along with the trophy and medals, the FA are giving just about enough to buy a new Mini, a dress and a hair-do.
“Not each, no fear. They’d all have to cram aboard because the £25,000 cash is the amount the winning team get.
“What do the runners-up receive? Enough for a skateboard each.
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“To be fair to the FA, they are working hard to build the women’s professional game. But the fact that the men winners of the FA Cup will be awarded £3.6million — more than enough to buy the team a Ferrari each — puts us in our place.
“The women’s prize money is insulting and, making matters worse, neither club gets a penny of the gate receipts, which last season set records with a 45,423 crowd for the Arsenal-Chelsea final.”
SunSport have contacted Southampton for comment.