The road to Wembley now has just eight teams left on it.
It didn’t seem that unrealistic, therefore, to think that between the FA, BT Sport and BBC Sport they might manage to schedule the four quarter finals across the weekend of 7th – 8th March without upsetting anyone.
But nobody reckoned with the idiocy of BBC Sport.
Aston Villa will take on West Brom in a local derby at 5.30pm on Saturday evening and Blackburn face a short, hour long drive across Lancashire to Liverpool the following evening.
Arsenal are being sent to Manchester for a 7.45 kick off on a Monday night.
It’s not just us though.
With its 12.45 kick off time, Reading fans will have to be up with the crows if they want to make the four hour trip to Bradford in time for their quarter final.
Where is the logic in scheduling the two clubs with the furthest to travel at these times?
Oh, that’s right, there is none.
The BBC are showing the Villa-West Brom game on Saturday evening, would it really have been that difficult to put our game on then and have put the local derby on on the Monday? Even better, two games on Saturday and two on Sunday (we all know that four games on Saturday is not going to happen).
As it is, Arsenal fans are now faced with a Monday night schlepping up to Manchester and then, more importantly, a journey home with- guess what? No direct trains back to London!
In fact, there’s no train that any Arsenal (or, for that matter, United) fan could get back to London and be home in time for breakfast.
Did anyone at the BBC know this, does anyone care?
What’s really annoying is that this is Manchester United v Arsenal.
The BBC could put this game on at any time they liked- obviously, they have- and they’d still get millions of viewers. It’s not a case of them needing to maximise viewers.
In some ways, the BBC are lucky.
The Arsenal away fans are a dedicated bunch and you know that despite the current outrage fans are feeling (and there is a lot of it, especially on Twitter), the away end at Old Trafford will be full for kick-off. There’s no danger of no atmosphere for this clash.
The BBC know this.
Maybe there should be.
I don’t know how it could ever happen, because no true fan ever wants to turn his back on his team (as someone who was at Old Trafford the day United stuck eight past us, I can attest to this), particularly with Wembley so close again, but you feel like some kind of protest needs to be made.
In the same way that the City fans drew attention to Arsenal’s “Cat A” prices last season, perhaps this is the moment where those away fans going to Manchester make their voice heard.
The Premier League TV rights recently sold for £5bn.
This money basically gives the TV companies the right to schedule who they want, when they want.
The thing is, would the Premier League be such an enticing, expensive, product if its weekly dramas were played out in empty stadiums?
Yes, it’s the players, like Alexis, like Cazorla, that fans around the world want to watch, but how long would those players stick around if they were playing in front of the proverbial one man and his dog?
The TV companies have a lot of power now, they’ve paid handsomely for it, but us fans also have power too.
Maybe it’s time to start using it.