Sample the Atmosphere of the Fa Community Shield Match

By: Adam Singleton

On 5th August 2007, the FA Community Shield will return to Wembley for the first time in seven years. As the traditional curtain-raiser to the domestic football season in England, the match is normally contested by the winners of the English Premier league and the F.A Cup. Formerly known as the FA Charity Shield, the match was first contested in 1908 between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers with the match being played at Stamford Bridge - the home ground of Chelsea FC.

Although now contested by winners of the English Premiership and F.A Cup, it was not always the case, as during the 1920s the Shield was contested in a match between an amateur team and a professional team before its current format was introduced in 1930. Until 1974, the Shield match had been played at various club grounds and it was FA Secretary Ted Croker who proposed that the game should be played at Wembley Stadium as curtain-raiser to the new football season.

Wembley Stadium acted as host to the FA Charity Shield between 1974 and 2000 before being closed for redevelopment. In addition to the FA Community Shield, the original stadium also played host to the European Cup Final 5 times, as well as the major domestic trophies in England. It was also one of seventeen stadia to have hosted a FIFA World Cup Final in 1966, which was won by the host nation. The closure of Wembley Stadium saw the Shield, along with the other domestic football Finals being moved to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium - a UEFA 5 Star stadium, before redevelopment work was completed early in 2007. The last FA Charity Shield match at the Millennium Stadium featured Liverpool and Chelsea, with Liverpool winning by two goals to one.

The FA Charity Shield was renamed to the FA Community Shield in 2002, but since its inception, the match for the Shield has played a major role in the Football Association's efforts to raise funds for charities throughout England. Among the sources for the funds include the net profits from admission tickets and sales of match-day programmes. The funds generated from the Community Shield match are distributed to clubs who participated in the previous season's FA Cup First-round who are then asked in turn to nominate a charity or community-based organisation which will receive the club's share of the fund. The remainder of the funds are donated to the FA Charity Partners - charities associated with the Football Association. Recent FA Charity Partners have included the British Heart Foundation, SOS Children's Villages and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Although the FA Community Shield has become one of the game's most important occasions and features worldwide TV coverage, the game is perhaps best sampled from one of Wembley's 90000 seats. This year, the match will feature Premiership winners Manchester United and FA Cup Winners Chelsea. With an abundance of travel options, from rail to coach travel, Wembley is within easy reach for football fans across the country looking to take in the atmosphere of a live game, herald the beginning of a new football season, and donate to a good cause - all at the same time!

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