Statement from Foxes Trust regarding the FA Cup Final 2021

The FA Cup Final 2021 will be played in front of 22,000 spectators. However, each club will only be allocated 6,250 tickets (12,500 total). The remaining 9,500 tickets will be distributed to residents in the Brent area of London, key workers and a normal distribution to FA affiliates, partners and sponsors. Foxes Trust is thoroughly disappointed at the allocations each club has received for the final.

Just 57% of tickets have been allocated to supporters. Foxes Trust and Chelsea Supporters’ Trust agree that this is unacceptable.

We call on the FA to make transparent exactly how tickets have been allocated, to whom and in what quantities. For some time now, the Football Supporters Association has been concerned about the level of ticket allocations to the competing teams in the final and this year indicates the status quo remains.

We understand that the cup final is part of the government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) and as such, certain Covid-19 precautions and restrictions must be in place, with the safety of those attending being paramount. However, we believe that the ERP presented an ideal opportunity to work with clubs and the FA to amend its usual distribution policy and allow clubs involved to have a larger allocation of tickets.

It is a further disappointment to the fans of our club that more supporters could not attend what is an historic occasion, having reached the final for the first time in 50 years.

There is no criticism implied of Leicester City Football Club, who have dealt with the ticket allocation at short notice and have mitigated some of the travel costs imposed on our supporters.

Only two weeks ago the FA commented: “the game is and always will be, for fans.” It is disappointing that more loyal supporters of Chelsea and Leicester City will not be able to attend its premier event.

CITY GIFT POINT TO 10-MAN SAINTS

SOUTHAMPTON 1 LEICESTER 1

Report by Eddie Blount

City had every reason to feel confident about this fixture given their recent return to form, including a semi-final win over opponents Southampton, a good recent record at St Mary’s (0-9 and all that) plus the news that Danny Ings, regularly a thorn in our side was unfit. So the omens were good though it did not appear so as the Saints had the ball in the net after a mere two minutes! Fortunately Walker-Peters, destined to be Sky’s MOM, was definitely offside though Thomas came close to playing him on.

This somewhat sleepy start from City continued and five minutes later a mistake by Soyuncu led to an excellent chance for Saints’ Tella which he scuffed badly straight at Schmeichel. Little did we know that this was to be as much attacking as the Saints were going to muster for the whole of the remainder of the game

In the 10th minute the course for the remaining 80 minutes was firmly set when Southampton were reduced to 10 men. It came out of nothing and gave rookie referee Rob Jones in only his tenth Premiership match an awkward decision. Saints’ centre-back, Vestergaard, allowed a simple pass to escape his control and tried to atone for his error with a studs up lunge for the ball which connected with it but also the ankle of the predatory Vardy lurking close by. The incident took place just outside the box though Vardy finished up well inside it! It looked a red card and you could take your pick from ‘serious foul play’ to ‘denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity.’ Apparently Jones and VAR determined it was the latter. All this of course was reminiscent of 2019 apart from the absence of the pouring rain on that memorable day.

City under Rodgers have done well when faced by 10 men but this was one which bucked the trend. Southampton were obliged to park the bus with two banks of four and Che Adams given the unenviable task of being a one-man attack as Tella was substituted for a replacement central defender. City persisted with three men at the back which was changed at half time but arguably should have been done earlier. The changes produced a sterile passage of play with constant City attacks faltering on the edge of the Saints penalty area.

Only Vardy had the pace and confidence to take defenders on and crosses were meat and drink to opponents who cleared them with ease. We needed the injured Barnes particularly as Maddison by his own admission was not up to full match fitness after his injury problems. We attacked of necessity down the flanks, there being less traffic on the M1 than was to be found in more central areas, though it was noticeable that Castagne on the right flank was much more effective than Thomas on the left though he did combine well on occasions with Vardy. Thomas has become becalmed as far as his progress is concerned perhaps unsettled by reports that we are looking to sign a left back!

Shots were few and far between and ones on target even rarer! Maddison had several attempts from distance during the match but all lacked conviction and accuracy. It was only after 33 minutes that we managed a shot on target and that was barely worthy of the description ‘feeble.’ It tells you all you need to know that the most noteworthy occurrence was the one minute break to allow Fofana to break his Ramadan fast. He was soon able to tuck into something more than juice and a banana when substituted at halftime for Perez who has apparently scored two hat-tricks against the Saints. The interval was an opportunity for reflection and two thoughts w ere uppermost. The first that we would need to be very patient and not over-commit and the second that we must not go a goal down.

Talk to yourself! In the 58th minute the climb got steeper when Saints managed a rare sortie into our half of the pitch culminating in a free kick near to the corner flag. What followed was quite dreadful with no redeeming features. City clearly decided that there would be cross into the box so Armstrong was allowed to stand on the edge of our box completely unmarked. In a training ground move the ball was played to him causing a degree of panic in the City defence. Fortunately the shot was going wide though not by too much. Less fortunately a City attacker, Iheanacho, was in line with it and raised his arms to block the ball ostensibly away from danger. It was a clear penalty under current regulations and a lifeline to the Saints which was eagerly taken by Ward-Prowse with a low shot past Schmeichel’s right hand. A test of character now ensued.

This was passed with flying colours within ten minutes when a superb cross from the atoning Iheanacho was met by the head of Evans for his second goal of the season.  This led directly to the substitution of Thomas for Albrighton and what followed was City’s best spell of the game with two clear chances and several promising moments. A cross by Albrighton was brilliantly defended to keep Vardy out but the striker should have scored minutes later when he wrong-footed a defender and had his shot from close range blocked by their keeper’s legs. He then made up for this miss by teeing up Ndidi for a clear shot from the edge of the penalty area but Wilf went for sheer power rather than placement and dragged the ball wide. By this time you knew it was not to be our day.

You can debate whether this was another point in our quest for a Champions’ League place (not that bad an away point) or two points needlessly dropped. Saints clearly saw it a s a moral victory and celebrated it as such at the end whilst Maddison when interviewed after the match made no effort to hide his disappointment. Rodgers tried to be more positive as is his way but there’s no hiding from the fact that this match should have been won even though it was as he pointed out our 4th game in 13 days. My guess is the chasing pack will also have challenges and it is still all to play for despite out testing final fixtures

City: Schmeichel . Fofana (Perez 46), Evans, Soyuncu , Castagne, Thielemans, Ndidi, Thomas (Albrighton 67), Maddison, Iheanacho, Vardy

Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Stephens, Tella (Salisu 10), Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, MInamino (Diallo), Redmond, Adams (Lundulu 90)

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

Farewell to ESL and all that… or is it?

So, it turns out VAR is not the thing ruining our national game but some scheming multi-billionaire owners! Suddenly, we find ourselves in an era where football governance has finally become ‘sexy’ to fans, enough for politicians to sit up and take notice.

Sunday 18 April was momentous for Leicester City. But it will also live long in the memory for other reasons, as prior to the kick-off of our triumphant FA Cup semi-final, the Foxes Trust were already embroiled in various conversations, WhatsApp and email messages regarding the announcement of the formation of the European Super League (ESL).  Our focus was on what action would be needed to halt it.

In many respects, none of what occurred on that day was a surprise – just the manner and timing of how the coup was attempted. We have spent nearly two years campaigning, along with the Football Supporters Association (FSA) associates and affiliates, against the UEFA club competition (UCC) reform, which included taking action against the proposed Project Big Picture reforms of European footfall, it was only a matter of time before the owners of the big clubs in Europe attempted to further feather their nests.

The unity shown by fans’ groups, football authorities, politicians of all parties, clubs up and down the leagues, even Prince William, demonstrated the importance of football to the national culture and conscience – the message is clear: this is our game and you the owners are only temporary custodians.

Now the dust has begun to settle, the issue is where do we go from here?  Getting the government to finally kick-start the long-promised fan-led review into football is a real result. Foxes Trust, via the FSA, will be making efforts to ensure the government are held to account in delivering real change for football – better governance, a fairer share of the spoils for all and, most importantly, some say for fans in how their clubs are run. The terms of reference for the review are wide ranging and nothing, at present, appears to be off the table.

However, we cannot let our guard drop. Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid, is insistent the ESL project is not dead, just ‘in development’. The injunction that the ESL took out, using European corporate law, preventing UEFA and national associations enacting sanctions against the clubs involved, is still in place.

Under the fog of the media storm caused by the ESL announcement, UEFA still voted through its UCC reforms, enlarging the Champions League and imposing more matches at the group stages. The Europa League is destined for a similar format and the Europa Conference will also come into being. More European football in an already crowded domestic calendar means something has to give – could Manchester City end up being the last club to win the League Cup if it is abandoned to make room?

Talking of domestic football, those fans wishing to see sanctions imposed on the ‘Big Six’ may have to wait and will probably be disappointed. The Premier League have already stated that any disciplinary action will have to follow the due process of league rules – although they have already called on various committee members from those clubs to resign their positions, in a token effort to curtail their influence. UEFA may yet take action against the ESL twelve. But it is likely the only concession Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA President, will perhaps make is to abandon the idea of places in the new Champions League being awarded on historical UEFA coefficients (i.e. not tied to the performances of those clubs in their domestic leagues).

Foxes Trust do not want to see sanctions imposed that hurt fans and players – this was not of their making or wanting and it is not a time to alienate those who helped bring down the ESL.  We would, however, be supportive of something that is aimed at the owners. Short-term measures, such as points deductions, would only be just that; financial penalties could be used if fines were distributed to the lower echelons of football. Imposing independent regulation and fan representation on club boards would be a start.

Foxes Trust are asking MPs to write to the head of the football review, Tracey Crouch MP, to publish a timetable – we want to see a report and recommendations in months not years. Some form of legislation relating to independent regulation, needs to go into the Queen’s Speech this autumn and no later. Football Supporters Europe, believe the only option for real change is to reform UEFA root and branch and to lobby for changes in European Law that would prevent such clubs hiding behind or using corporate law to their advantage.

Certainly, we need to build on the fan unity demonstrated in the past week. Foxes Trust urge all supporters to join their local trust or independent fans’ groups or to join the FSA as an individual member. At a hastily convened meeting with the Prime Minister last week, with fan representatives from the FSA and various executives from the footballing authorities, it is rumoured one fan rep began by asking: ‘Right Boris, we represent around 12 million voters, so what are you going to do for us’ – let’s hope those in power never forget that point and that clubs remember football is nothing without fans.

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KELECHI COMPLETES CRUCIAL CITY COMEBACK

City 2 Crystal Palace 1

Report by Coin Hall

A spectacular 80th minute strike from the in-form Kelechi Iheanacho – the Nigerian’s TWELFTH goal in the last nine games – gave Leicester City a 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace and strengthened the Foxes’ grip on a top-three place in the Premier League.

Brendan Rodgers kept faith with the same starting line-up which had seen off West Bromwich with some comfort in the previous fixture, with Luke Thomas continuing at left wing-back and James Maddison given more game time in his recovery from injury.

City started strongly, with Jamie Vardy twice going close in the early stages, as he sought to recover the rhythm that has often deserted him in recent games.

But any thoughts that the visitors would capitulate in the manner they did in the corresponding fixture last season were swiftly dispelled when they took the lead with their first serious attack.

When Youri Tielemans was dispossessed in midfield, Eze pounced to send Zaha through a woefully deficient offside trap and beat Kasper Schmeichel for the winger’s seventh career goal against City. Only Harry Kane among current players has scored more often against us.

Palace seemed content to sit on this lead for the remainder of the half, with a combination of solid defending and robust tackles unsettling and frustrating the Foxes. Not for the first time this season, City failed to make the most of a series of opportunities from set pieces, although Tielemans did force visiting keeper Guaita into a save from a free-kick on the edge of the box.

City were denied a lifeline in first-half stoppage time when Wilfred Ndidi was sent sprawling by an aerial challenge from Ward. However a review by VAR Stuart Attwell – an official not exactly renowned for his pro-Foxes affinities – deemed no foul had been committed.

However, the home side stepped up the tempo significantly after the break and soon reaped due reward. A Tielemans through ball was brilliantly controlled by Iheanacho, who teed up Timothy Castagne to find the net for his first home goal for City. A lengthy VAR review ensued, to check whether a high boot or handball featured in the move, but eventually the ruling came that no infringement occurred, and the goal could stand.

Minutes later came the moment which ultimately defined the match – and perhaps even City’s entire season.

In another Palace break, Zaha sprung the offside trap to put Riedewald clear, but the midfielder looked to pass rather than shoot, thus enabling Jonny Evans to recover and make the most vital of interceptions – later described as “match-saving” in post-match interviews.

Nevertheless, City continued to press the visitors and created clear chances on a regular basis, with Guaita thwarting Maddison and Vardy. At the other end, though, Benteke outjumped Wesley Fofana at a corner, only to send a header straight into Schmeichel’s arms.

Both Maddison and Thomas were replaced midway through the half as City looked for a winner. Neither enjoyed the most comfortable of evenings, and some rotation may be expected in forthcoming games to give others chance to stake a claim for a starting place in the FA Cup Final.

After Vardy and Tielemans had squandered glorious chances in quick succession, the breakthrough finally came.

Iheanacho seized upon a long pass from Evans and turned past two visiting defenders to unleash a thunderbolt which left Guaita transfixed as it struck the back of his net.

The goal was no more than the striker deserved for another outstanding display. It is hard to believe that this is the same Iheanacho whose wretched performance – including a missed penalty – in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park led many in the fanbase to fear for his future at the Foxes.

Benteke headed wide from another set piece as Palace sought to level the game in the closing stages, but City held on to clinch back-to-back home wins for only the second time this season.

With rivals West Ham and Liverpool both dropping points at home in the latest round of fixtures, City now have a real chance of clinching a much-coveted Champions League spot before next month’s double-header with Chelsea in London.

If this side can replicate the reserves of spirit and character that it drew upon during this performance, such a target lies well within its reach.

City (3-5-2): Schmeichel (c); Fofana, Evans, Söyüncü; Castagne, Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison (Pérez 70), Thomas (Albrighton 70); Iheanacho, Vardy. Subs not used: Ward, Ricardo, Amartey, Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Ünder.

Goals: Castagne (50), Iheanacho (80)

Palace (4-2-3-1): Guaita; Ward, Dann, Kouyate, Van Aanholt; Riedewald (Schlupp 85), Milivojevic (c) (McCarthy 83); Ayew (Townsend 78) Eze, Zaha; Benteke. Subs not used: Butland, Clyne, Kelly, Mitchell, Mateta, Batshuayi.

Goal: Zaha (12)                                 Booked: Riedewald

Referee: Graham Scott                  VAR: Stuart Attwell

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

City in Cruise Control against a poor Albion

Leicester City 3 v West Bromwich Albion 0

King Power Stadium, 22 April 2021.

Report by Colin Murrant

It seems so much has happened since The Foxes last played an EPL game and, after the semi-final victory and the distractions of the ESL, it felt good to be back at base chasing three points to further Champions League ambitions. Whilst the joy of the Cup semi-final was immense it was somewhat tempered by the ESL news.

The two positives taken from the ESL debacle were the solidity of the fans of all clubs and, above all, the reinforcement of the knowledge that LCFC’s owners differ from others in that they care passionately about their supporters and the Community.

West Bromwich Albion arrived at The King Power on the back of resounding victories against City’s nearest challengers in the League, Chelsea and also Southampton. Rodgers made two changes with Thomas coming in for Ricardo and Maddison for Perez.

If there were any concerns that City players would be distracted by the Wembley date in May, these were soon forgotten as City almost went ahead in the second minute. Iheanacho just inside the Albion half manged to dispossess Townsend and was in on goal. His touch, as he got into the area, was too hard and Johnstone forced the striker wide; Iheanacho retained possession but the chance was gone. Almost immediately an Albion attack saw a good pass from Pereira set up Diagne but the striker scuffed his shot. At this stage the match was being played at a good tempo and the visitors were having good periods but by the quarter of an hour mark City were taking full control and rarely looked in trouble thereafter.

Castange, playing in his favoured right wing-back position was increasingly prominent and, with Maddison at his creative best, City began to find lots of space. The breakthrough came on 23 minutes as Tielemans found Castange with a pass that split The Baggies defence: he sped unchallenged into the box and squared to Vardy who broke his long drought as he confidently arced the ball past Johnstone.

This stared a 13-minute purple patch for City as first Evans scored as he met a deflected corner from Tielemans, followed by Iheanacho’s now customary goal. Evans’s goal was almost embarrassingly simple as he seemed to stroll through a host of stationary defenders. Iheanacho’s goal was a classic move, Thomas played his part as he broke forward down the left and fed Vardy: Vardy broke into the area and nutmegged the defender before laying the ball to Iheanacho, the forward had run in on goal then dropped back 2 metres to gain space, he received the ball, controlled it then buried it beyond the despairing keeper.

Between the second and third goal the woodwork was hit twice as first Castange hit the foot of the far post as he shot from the right, then Pereira took a corner which skimmed the top of the City crossbar, although Schmeichel had the air of someone in control of the situation. Iheanacho should have scored as good work from Maddison and Castagne set him up but, although his first tough was delightful, he managed to hit row ‘Z’ with his shot. Just before the break, and after a long period of City possession, Fofana gave the ball away and Phillips strode forward and shot strongly but Schmeichel saved.

Albion had been shocking in the first half, they looked uninterested, unmotivated and disorganised: things not associated with Big Sam’s teams. The second half followed a similar pattern although for Leicester the game was won and there was no need to go chasing further goals. City had long periods of control and finished the game with over 70% possession. There was a lot less goal mouth action although on the hour Schmeichel took a blow in the face as he was challenged by Bartley following a rare Albion corner.

Vardy tried a shot from the halfway line as an Albion player let the ball run as he thought it was going out of play: Vardy was quickly onto the ball, looked up and saw Johnstone off his line, but his shot was weak and well wide. Perez, on for Maddison was put through on goal but was pulled back by Bartley just outside the box. It was the merest of touches but the defender was booked, the resultant free-kick from Iheanacho beating the wall but easily saved by the keeper.

And so, it ended with City three points nearer their dream of Champions League and Albion one match nearer the drop, it was quite remarkable that Albion were so poor when they tore into, and put five goals past, Chelsea only recently. The Foxes now have a few days rest to prepare for Monday night against Crystal Palace. All in all a most satisfactory week as City march forward on two fronts and seem to be getting back to their best.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Thomas, Fofana (62), Soyuncu, Evans, Castagne; Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison (72); Iheanacho, Vardy (85). Subs : Ward, Pereira, Amartey, Albrighton (62), Perez (72), Praet (85), Mendy, Choudhury, Under

West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, O’Shea, Bartley, Townsend; Maitland-Niles, Yokuslu, Pereira (73), Phillips, Robinson (45); Diagne (61). Subs : Button, Ajayi (45), Peltier, Gallagher, Sawyers, Livermore, Diangana, Grant (73), Robson-Kanu (61)

Referee : Andy Madley

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation