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The statement comes just days after the organisation came in for criticism from Wigan and Manchester City fans who accused it of prioritising commercial interests

The Football Association have defended its decision to schedule the FA Cup final at 5:15pm amid widespread castigation over the resulting transport issues facing Wigan and Manchester City supporters.

Fans hoping to travel to head home by train will be forced to rush, with the game finishing at around 7.15pm at the earliest. The last train to Wigan from London is at 8.31pm, while the final train to Manchester leaves at 9pm.

"The FA would like to highlight that 5.15pm is a regular kick-off time in the football calendar ” a statement on the FA's official website reads.

"This time was agreed with major stakeholders and broadcasters and has been used across the game for a number of years for televised matches.

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"In terms of transportation, a small percentage of cup final fans use the method of train travel.

"Additional coach services which National Express are running, including directly from Wembley Stadium, mean there are more options for fans returning north after the game from Wembley on Saturday 11 May."

The statement goes on to explain that the later kick-off allows a greater number of fans to tune in, thus boosting the revenue potential of the event.

"The kick-off time is unchanged from last year and this allows more football fans around the country to watch the cup final in its entirety," the statement continued.

"The domestic viewing figures for last year’s FA Cup final, shown on ITV and ESPN, recorded a combined peak in-home audience of 11.7m people in the UK.

"This was the highest peak viewing figure the FA Cup final has achieved under the current TV deal and a higher audience than that of Bayern Munich v Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Final."

Earlier this week, the Wigan Supporters' Club spokesman Jason Taylor told the Guardian that the late timing of the game would leave fans of both Manchester City and Wigan unable to catch the last trains back to the North West, particularly if the result were to be decided in extra-time.

"It seems the FA are more interested in what the television companies want than the logistics of supporters getting to and from their final," Taylor said.

"It's not just us, it affects Manchester City as well.

"They are only 18 miles away and we will be using the same roads and, if it was possible, train lines. It was a nightmare for the semi-final."

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