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England fans warned away from airport as World Cup heroes return to the UK

1:53 pm, 15th July 2018

Gareth Southgate and his squad will arrive back at Birmingham Airport this afternoon, but there will be no fanfare as the Football Association has decided against staging a homecoming event.

This is despite the Three Lions defying pre-tournament expectations and reaching the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time in almost 30 years.

Fans were daring to dream of a possible place in the final when Kieran Trippier curled in a sumptuous free-kick after just five minutes in Wednesday’s semi-final against Croatia.

But Southgate’s men faded, eventually falling to a 2-1 defeat after extra-time.

England are returning the day after their 2-0 defeat to Belgium in the tournament’s third place play-off in St Petersburg.

Football may not have come home, but Southgate’s young squad equalled England’s best ever performance in a World Cup on foreign soil.

For many fans, this has made the decision not to allow the public to welcome the players back perplexing.

Amid criticism from fans on Twitter, Birmingham Airport insisted the decision was made by the FA because of security restrictions.

The airport tweeted: “We haven’t made the decision to not arrange a homecoming.

“We’re handling the flight as the FA asked & the area of the airport doesn’t lend itself to a viewing area.

“We understand you want to welcome the team but you’ll not be able to see them. We ask you not to come to the site.”

In a message to England Supporters Club members on Saturday, the FA reiterated the low-key nature of the squad’s return.

“Thank you for your unbelievable support throughout this World Cup journey. In Russia and back home you’ve been incredible,” the post said.

“This team has never felt closer to the fans and the nation than they do today.

“Those moments after every match, win or lose, when the players and staff have gone to our supporters have been truly special.

“Following this evening’s match, the squad will privately return to England and go their separate ways for a well-earned break.

“There will therefore be no opportunity for a public reception either at the airport or elsewhere.

“The players look forward to continuing that special relationship at their clubs, throughout our autumn internationals and beyond.”

As well as no homecoming event at the airport there will be no parade, a decision that has the support of Southgate.

“I think if we make the final, maybe it’s different,” he said.

“I must say the support we’ve had from home and the feeling of support is immense.

“To have been able to make a difference is something that will live with us all forever, so we can tell the way that the country has united behind football and that’s maybe more important than the performance in some respects.

“But if we have a parade, that would have been one part of the country and we represent the whole country as well.

“The feeling we have is we’re proud and we hope that – come our matches in September – that warm feeling about international football will be there again.

“We’re very proud but we haven’t won in the end and there is, I guess, a balance of all of that.”