Club Focus – Man City – Stoke fixture a problem as Blues rebuffed in bid for Uruguayan international

The fact that FA Cup finalists Manchester City and Stoke City were due to meet in the Premier League on the day of the May 14 final has thrown up a bizarre set of circumstances. With the Champions League final taking place at Wembley on May 28 the domestic cup final has had to be brought forward a fortnight, as UEFA rules state the pitch cannot be used for two weeks prior to the European game.

This has meant the Blues and Tony Pulis´s team will now play the league fixture at Eastlands on Tuesday, May 17, three days after their own cup final, which could mean the Potters profiting from losing the game. Premier League, Football Association and UEFA rules state the runners-up would gain automatic entry into next season´s Europa League in the event the FA Cup winners qualify for the Champions League. This means if Stoke were to lose at Wembley then they would benefit from City finishing in fourth spot.

Unsurprisingly, Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp is not happy with this as his team, currently in fifth place, stands to lose out if the situation does arise, and he has asked for the fixture to be played before the final.

Redknapp said: ”I am sure Tony Pulis’s team would not want to lose any game, but it is a bad time to play it and the Premier League should look at it. I have spoken to my chairman and we feel the date should be changed. It is up to the powers that be.”

The man chosen to referee this year´s FA Cup final is Martin Atkinson, the man in the middle when Sir Alex Ferguson was handed a five-match touchline ban after Manchester United were beaten 2-1 at Chelsea. Atkinson incurred Ferguson´s wrath for awarding a late penalty against the Reds and also failing to send off Chelsea defender David Luiz.

The 40-year-old Yorkshireman´s biggest game to date has been the 2006 FA Community Shield game between Liverpool and Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, and he also refereed the 2009 FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Wembley. In addition, earlier this month he was in charge of the Champions League quarter-final tie between Schalke 04 and Inter Milan at the San Siro. His assistants will be Simon Beck from Bedfordshire and Worcestershire´s Adam Watts, both FIFA international officials with whom he has worked before.

Meanwhile, it is reported that City have been rebuffed in an attempt to prise highly-rated midfielder Gast

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