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Manchester City furious over scheduling of FA Cup game against Chelsea

Manuel Pellegrini, right, is aware of the speculation surrounding Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City job, but says his only focus is on winning things this season. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

Manchester City are furious at the Football Association for the scheduling of their FA Cup tie with Chelsea on Sunday 21 February, which is three days before Manuel Pellegrini’s side travel to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kyiv in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

It is understood the club have written to the FA at the very highest level to complain about a decision they view as ridiculous. But the governing body has insisted that it was the BBC who chose to schedule the tie on the Sunday, adding that while not ideal, the broadcast revenues are put back into the game and benefit sides lower down the league pyramid. The FA did try to stage the game on Friday but this proved impossible because of the BBC’s scheduling, with similar reasons preventing it being played on Saturday.

“Despite continued efforts to schedule Manchester City’s FA Cup 5th round visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, conflicting fixtures and safety concerns meant this was not possible, so Sunday was the only slot available,” read a statement from the broadcaster.

City had wanted the fifth-round match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge played on the Saturday as this would have given each club four days either side of the tie, regarding their respective Champions League matches. Chelsea are at Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday 16 February.

If City knock out Kyiv they will reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history and this would also help the Uefa coefficient with the Premier League’s four places in the competition under threat.

City have four matches in 11 days, including the Capital One Cup final against Liverpool on 28 February. The club are upset that their chance of a historic quadruple is being damaged by what they view as the FA punishing City for being successful.

The view at the Etihad Stadium is that the wider issuing of scheduling for all clubs also needs to be reconsidered.

If City draw at Chelsea the replay could not be staged before the FA Cup sixth round weekend because of internationals and their own match versus Newcastle United being rearranged due to the Capital One Cup final.

On Friday, Pellegrini said he would consider fielding a weakened side against Chelsea if the FA chose to schedule the game on the Sunday.

“I don’t know what Chelsea are thinking about that,” he said. “But I’m sure that if they had to play on Saturday they would have no argument not to do it because they play four days before in the Champions League and after that they don’t have a midweek game, so for them it’s a normal day to play on the Saturday.

“I suppose but I don’t know what Chelsea are thinking. But if one club asks for another team to play that day, personally I would not have any problems.” – theguardian –

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