The Welsh Gull

Torquay United, the Football League and other stuff

“Saving” the FA Cup

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The traditional “FA Cup is losing its magic and needs to be changed to save it” debate is back. The argument is that the big teams aren’t taking it seriously enough any more due to that old chestnut, fixture congestion, and nobody really cares, so they need to try to find ways of “fixing it” There seem to be a few proposals on the table:

– Seeding the top teams so that the earlier rounds, from the 3rd on, would be Premiership/Championship teams vs L1/L2/non-league
As a fan of a lower league club, it sounds good in principle, because it would guarantee a good draw, but that doesn’t solve the problem of the big teams not taking it seriously, it would be artificial, and a draw at a big club playing a 2nd string side means attendances will be lower anyway

– Abolishing replays
This would give smaller clubs a better chance of progression but there will be no potential for money-spinning replays at a big ground

– Switching post-3rd Round matches to midweek
Ghastly idea

– Moving the final to an evening kick-off time
I don’t think it would matter all that much, but equally I can’t see what the benefits would be

– Giving the winners a Champions League place
An interesting idea but, even with them not taking it seriously, how often is it that it’s not won by one of the big clubs? Only Portsmouth in recent years have done it from outside the old “big 4”. Maybe it would encourage them a bit, especially the mid-table Premiership teams who care less, but inevitably I don’t think it’ll make any difference, and if anything, it’ll make it more difficult for the smaller big clubs to win it

Basically, I don’t see it as such a bad thing that your Manchester Uniteds, Arsenals, Chelseas and so on don’t take the FA Cup so seriously, because it gives other teams a chance of winning. Seeing Birmingham City win the League Cup this year was great. We need to stop the likes of Stoke not taking it seriously, though, because they have no reason to do so

So maybe the answer is fixing something else – i.e. the League Cup. The bigger clubs in the Prem take this even less seriously. So, given that it is actually called the Football League Cup, why not kick the Premiership out of it? While the smaller clubs in the FL would lose out on a bit of money from not potentially drawing a Premiership club (as we only have to win 1 match to get a potential trip to Old Trafford, Anfield or Stamford Bridge), I would argue that there are so many big clubs now in the Championship that it can still be a money-spinner, and it would give them a much better chance of progressing and earning more prize money. Plus it would give the Championship teams a shot at silverware

Equally, if you want more people to go, you’ve got to make some of the extraordinarily high ticket prices lower for FA Cup games. It’s too expensive to justify if said big teams are playing weakened sides, so make it cheaper

I don’t believe the FA Cup itself is that broken, so I don’t see the need to “fix” it…


Written by James Bennett

March 11, 2011 at 16:43

Posted in Club Football, Football

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