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By ESPN Staff

Cardiff boss Jones backing Wembley semi-finals

Cardiff boss Dave Jones has hit back at Sir Alex Ferguson's claims the FA Cup has been devalued by the semi-finals being held at Wembley.

The days of semi-finals being played at neutral venues like Villa Park and Old Trafford appear numbered for the foreseeable future at least with the Football Association having signed a 30-year staging agreement to host the games at Wembley.

It is a decision which drew criticism from the Manchester United manager, who argued it took 'a wee bit of the real lustre' off the final.

Jones, whose side take on Barnsley on Sunday, accepts the argument may be a valid one for the big four, who make regular trips to Wembley.

But with this season's semi-finals involving sides unaccustomed to such familiarity with the national stadium - the Bluebirds side last reached a Wembley final 81 years ago - he insists it can only be a good thing.

'If you're one of the bigger clubs who are getting there year in year out then it does take a little bit away because the final is the last game of the competition that everybody wants to go to,' he said.

'For clubs like ourselves and Portsmouth (who play West Bromwich Albion tomorrow) to go and play at Wembley it is great to be in the semi-final so I'm not going to knock that.

'If you are Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and you're going year in year out then I can understand what they're saying.

'The Welsh people want to go across the border and make a lot of noise in England so there is that sort of patriotism that they have.

'I think to hold the semi-finals at Wembley is great and sometimes when Manchester United take on someone like Chelsea or Liverpool, if you go to one of the league grounds there aren't enough tickets anyway.

'If you can cram 80,000 in to see it then why not.'

The absence of the latter pair can be solely attributed to Sunday's opponents, which has led to many neutrals throwing their weight behind the Tykes, deeming the two victories alone deserving of the trophy.

But that argument does not wash with Jones, whose side's sole victory over a top-flight side came against Middlesbrough in the previous round.

He said: 'I don't really care to be honest. I'm not really bothered who thinks what about the romance of the cup.'

Nor do suggestions from any of the top managers that they will not be looking on with envy this weekend.

'I think this year has proved the FA Cup is alive and kicking and anyone who says `we don't want to be there, we are concentrating on other things' I'm sure they'd like to be in the situation that we're in,' Jones added.

'Somebody said Sir Alex is only thinking about Champions League and the league and the cup was a second priority.

'I bet if you went and asked him when he lost to Portsmouth he wasn't too pleased with that so I'm sure he'd want to be here because he wants to win everything.

'Anyone that says they don't want to be in the FA Cup semi-final is either kidding themselves or lying.

'It's something that will stick with you forever and ever. It's the first time we've reached this stage for 81 years and they're talking about it now.

'That tells you how big a competition it is to people in this country.'