As we approach this weekend I cannot wait for another couple of days of sport as the sun hopefully continues to beam down on us. We’ve got some crucial EPL games, the Monte Carlo tennis masters and a handful of thought-provoking boxing cards. Oh and the FA cup apparently…..
Earlier this season we witnessed Bournemouth resting players at Millwall that saw them go out but I don’t blame Eddie Howe. If a team wins the FA Cup, they earn £1.8million but each club gets £2m per place they finish in the Premier League. In terms of monetary value the three points are potentially more treasured than winning the esteemed trophy. Are Bournemouth going to be thinking about losing 3-0 to Millwall when they visit Old Trafford and Anfield next season?
Common consensus with respect to this competition of vivacious history, is that the biggest blow came in 2000 when Manchester United elected to play in the World Club Championships instead of the FA cup. For me, it happened a few years earlier. The Champions League became “the” competition and in 1997 qualification was changed so winning your domestic league was no longer the only way of qualifying. Out went the European Cup Winners Cup too.
Part of the problem is the scheduling (January to May). The big clubs need to prioritise the EPL and European competition. The Capital One Cup, on the other hand, is done by February. But there are more logistical issues than that which has diminished that feeling of nostalgia. The feeling that “this is the FA-cup” (previously leading to me banging on Harry Symeou’s front door in the mid to late 90s so we could watch the final build up!). It was the last fixture of domestic calendar with the day solely focused on the final until 2011 where Manchester City beat Stoke City 1-0 in the final. Meanwhile, on that very day, Manchester United were playing in one of several EPL fixtures that claimed them the EPL title. Again in 2013 Wigan Athletic went from winning the FA cup to being relegated the following week. Now we see this TV (and global) friendly 5:15 kick off time. If the game goes to extra time or even penalties are fans from the north of the country going to be hanging around for the coveted trophy presentation?
Is there a solution to all of this? Probably not. Although one thing I would do is offer the winner a place in the Champions League in a play-game vs the team that finishes fourth in the league. Whether this would restore any credibility I don’t know. What are our followers suggestions? Or am I the only one apathetic towards the world’s oldest football competition?