By Phil Jennings
VILLA boss Dean Smith believes it is wrong to stage the Championship Play-Off Final as the last of the three Wembley showpieces this weekend.
He believes the game should kick-off the three games with League One and Two promotion issues being settled before Villa meet Derby.
Last season, the game with Fulham was staged on a Saturday with the World Cup just around the corner.
But the Championship final has always been traditionally held on the Bank Holiday Monday.
Smith believes that should be changed as players from both sides will have had almost a fortnight’s since the semi-finals.
The Villa boss has already hinted that the gap was more like an international break and suggested it was too long.
Newport will play Tranmere in the League Two Play-off on Saturtday before Charlton and Sunderland go head to head in the League One Final 24 hours later.
Only then will Villa and Derby take centre stage and Smith said: “It’s a long time to wait. It’s a little bit wrong in my opinion that – given the prize which is on offer – and we’re the third game on at Wembley over the weekend.”
The winners of the Championship Final will pocket £170million as a result of being promoted to the Premier League.
And, for Villa, that is a far cry from last summer when they were in financial meltdown and almost went into administration.
Smith added: ”The players are really excited and looking forward to the game now.
“We’re confident without being over-confident. There’s been no change in their attitude or application in training.
“There’s a tightness about the group and a lot of banter goes on within the group. But when they get down to work they work very hard. They’re calm but looking forward to it.”