Wembley is rightly regarded as the home of English football and has witnessed some fabulous moments for the national side, although perhaps less so more recently. But does having a London-based national stadium provide a fair opportunity for England fans who live nowhere near the capital to watch their national side? I'm largely speaking from experience here. Born and bred in Northern England it appears as though my chances to watch England play are severely limited by the fact that all of England's home games are played at Wembley. The Fa might not class this an issue and would no doubt rather spend their valuable time deciding if red cards should be rescinded. Considering that tickets for England games generally sell without issue can we blame them?
Does this London-based venue provide the rest of the country a fair chance to watch England? With millions of pounds invested in an unbelievable 90,000 seater stadium, some will likely view this argument as futile, but it is definitely worth assessing if the Fa do enough to give all of England a fair chance. (People do actually live above Watford!)
I would love to see England play at least one fixture in a different location to give everyone one a chance to support the national side. Being a Sunderland fan and preparing for a Wembley trip myself, I am all too aware of the phenomenal cost of a Wembley weekend. This is the prospect that faces many fans who would love to watch England, but cannot afford the sheer expense of a trip to London. Factor in ticket costs, hotels, transport, beer, food and you soon have a total well into the hundreds. Contrast this with an England game played for example at Old Trafford, a Northern-based England fan may be able to drive to and from the match the same night at a fraction of the cost.
Being rather young when the new Wembley was under construction I feel as though I may have missed my big chance to watch England play away from Wembley, but you don't realise this at a young age. With England already playing a very limited number of fixtures at the new Wembley it does appear extremely unlikely that any move to effectively encourage the England national team to play in other areas of the country will take place, but it's definitely an argument worth mentioning.
Additionally, the problem potentially stretches beyond Wembley. The recent development of St George's Park in Burton upon Trent at first viewing appears an impressive investment in the future of English football. However, could this money have been better spent investing in local football around the country? There are no doubt plenty of kids who are unaware the facility even exists, yet are perfectly aware of the waterlogged pitch and poor changing facilities they play on every week. This may be deviating from the point, but does call into question the Fa's commitment to improving football opportunities in the country as a whole, or purely for an elite group of talented kids.
Would a young lad watching England at a local stadium not be inspired to become as good as their heroes?
Would it be so difficult for England to play one of their friendlies each season in a different part of the country?
These are surely points worth consideration.