FA CUP FINAL 2011: Manchester City v Stoke City Tickets

Manchester City v Stoke City

Peter Coates, Stoke City Chairman, believes that the Premier League would be impugning his club's integrity if they brought forward their fixture against Manchester City in response to Tottenham Hotspur's concerns that there could be a potential carve-up of the result to secure European qualification.

Harry Redknapp, whose Spurs side are competing with City in the battle for fourth place in the Premier League, has expressed misgivings about the date of the rearranged game because it could be in Stoke's interests to loose at Eastlands to enhance their prospects of qualifying for Europe.

If Stoke were to lose the FA Cup final, they could still qualify for next season's Europa League if City were to finish in the top four in the Premier League. This would mean that City would go into the Champions League and not need the FA Cup's Europa League berth, which would go to Stoke. It is a potential scenario that has prompted unease at White Hart Lane, although the Premier League is adamant the fixture should not be changed for the very reasons that Coates has outlined.

"I would be amazed and we would really be annoyed if the Premier League changed that fixture. It's kind of impugning our integrity, isn't it?" the Stoke chairman said. "But I don't think the Premier League will [change it]. There is no reason to do that.

"I like Harry – he's up to every trick in the book and I don't mean that unkindly. I don't blame him. We all like him and he's a good guy. But he's wrong on this one. A place higher up in the Premier League is very important to us – it's worth a lot of money. But apart from that it doesn't matter who you are playing, you want to win."

Coates said bringing the fixture forward could lead to another potential problem. "If we are safe [from relegation] at that point, Tony [Pulis, the manager] might as well say: 'I want to rest my players and get them ready for Wembley.' And then the situation would be going again. I think Harry has got this one wrong. But I'm not having a go at him. I'm a fan of his."The obvious solution would be for the FA to ensure that the Cup final – which has been brought forward this year because Wembley is hosting the Champions League final on 28 May and Uefa insists no game can be played on the pitch a fortnight before – is never again moved from its traditional place as the final game in the domestic calendar.

"I do hope that's how it will be in the future," Coates said. "The FA Cup final is a showpiece. It makes it awkward because we're playing in an enormous game for us and then we've still got two games left. I'm hoping we're safe by then. But I do hope this is a one-off. The Champions League final at Wembley has messed it up and I hope in future we'll revert back to the old tradition of the season has ended and we play the FA Cup final."

Top upcoming matches have tickets still available:

FA CUP FINAL 2011: Manchester City v Stoke City Tickets 14 May 2011 15:00 Wembley Stadium
London, United Kingdom
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL 2011 Tickets 28 May 2011 19:00 Wembley Stadium
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EURO 2012 (Qualifier): England v Switzerland Tickets 4 Jun 2011 16:45 Wembley Stadium
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