Is there still magic in the cup? Stupid question really if you're a supporter of one of the small clubs that have drawn a big club in the third round of the FA Cup.
But if you’re the rest of us and you support a Premiership side or a team in the top half of the Championship, then it’s a legitimate question.
There’s no doubt the FA Cup does not have the magic it once did when the final was one of only a handful of matches you could watch live on TV every season.
I wouldn’t say familiarity has bred contempt as far as the Cup goes with all the live matches now, but it means it is not as special. It does lack glamour and Man United are blamed by many for this – after their decision to abandon the Cup and play in the mickey-mouse World Club Championship six years ago.
Quite who was to blame for that decision – the club or the FA, or someone else – will probably never be revealed – but to my mind that move cannot be put down as a major factor. For me it’s quite simple – it’s money.
The FA Cup is another source of money – how many times have we had small clubs switching home games to ground of their bigger opponents? How many times do the chairmen of small clubs go on about how much they have made out of a tie, rather than the glory of the occasion.
And for the big clubs the FA Cup is just another route into Europe, but crucially because of the structure of the Champions League, it’s not as valuable. Witness the interest at the end of each Premiership season for the teams trying to finish third and fourth. Frankly it is more important to do this than win the FA Cup which only gets you into the Uefa Cup – and that is now no more than a fourth rate tournament which only becomes interesting in the final.
Clearly the FA are never going to campaign to get the winners of the FA Cup a place in the Champions League because it would have to be at the expense of the fourth placed Premiership team. Add in the fact that in recent seasons the FA and League Cup finals usually feature one of the top four teams and you don’t even have to win these cups to get into Europe.
The answer? Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope a Championship team or someone like Reading can go all the way and win the cup this season.
The chance of it happening? No chance.
Lawrence Gosling is a consultant to Incisive Media (publisher of IFAonline).IFAonline
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