Lately the media, writers and radio shows have been obsessing over the enigma of “Does the FA Cup still matter?” Before games, after games, after every round, on television, radio and even on social networking sites. It’s getting close to being on the side of insanity!
Football always has a place for tradition and history. The FA cup has that in volumes, some of the greatest memories of English football have been in the FA cup; Ryan Giggs’ run versus Arsenal to send them to the final and subsequently led to the treble, or Roberto di Matteo early belter versus Middlesbrough in 1997 and more recently the story of the underdog that we can’t get enough of in this country with Wigan Athletic against Manchester City last season. You will notice these are all memories from the later stages, mainly because it’s the ones most football fans will know and all be fond of.
This is because the other memories, the core of the FA Cup are the snippets of history in the pre match magazine or the VT before a game and a small discussion after. Media wise that’s it, but for the fans and everyone else surrounding those clubs, these stories are massive. To be on the front page of the paper, to be able to play Premiership teams, to gain extra money for the general revenue, gain more crowds and to be on television is the best part! Even to just to be one of the games in the highlights it adds something different and the slice of fame for a club.
Honestly, I am one of those who have grown up with the buzz and excitement of Europe and can’t get enough of ‘The UEFA Champions League’. The best around Europe battle it out to become great in the eyes of the world. Football on a weeknight, on free sat is fantastic. You get to see best players and the best teams that some of us wouldn’t normally get to watch. Also the Champions League has a distinctive difference; a theme tune and a great logo. All you need is to hear that theme tune and it brings back memories and nostalgia of certain games and moments of brilliance, for me the 7-1 thrashing of Roma by Manchester United at Old Trafford. It’s tough but between the Champions League and the Premiership these are the two competitions that in modern football and for this generation gets the attention and gets my friends and I excited.
The FA cup is still a great competition but the bigger teams are fighting on all fronts and the early rounds are usually placed with “weakened” teams but these teams show off some of the youth at the clubs and also players who should want to fight for a place in the 1st team. In all for the bigger teams to select a second or even third team it shouldn’t really matter as football now is a squad game. There is a point that with mid table and relegation threatened teams come into the cup, priorities are taken. This is where the competition does suffer in that aspect. But all it does is possibly allow a team who wants it more to come forward and that team deserves a place in the next round, an opportunity that is waiting to be taken. Also much coverage is on the higher leagues, the media doesn’t get that it doesn’t matter what team the non Premiership side play on the pitch, it’s just about having a great cup run and only the FA cup offers that. The Capital One Cup is a cup that is good for the bigger teams to make sure they aren’t trophy-less but doesn’t do anything new so apart from the money available, I believe the FA cup it would gain if it was dropped from the schedule.
For me, the FA Cup certain actions could be taken to be put on par with the other two competitions is to one, to stop talking it down and asking the same enigma and instead concentrate on historic stories, all the crazy results we’ve seen in the past and potential future ones. Two, clubs could also play a part due to some of the expenses of the games, they should make it more of an event, look towards the American Super Bowl, or the Champions League because we have so many competitions so many games and apart from what happens on the pitch, it’s all very similar off it. This would bring a fresh vibe to the cup but still keep it at its core. Three; produce a theme tune so all those memories will come every time you hear it and will jeer up the players too, if not even further. Four, possibly show more games of the lower leagues than just the Premiership clubs against lower league opposition and don’t look for just the underdog story, look for games with history and gives some exposure to the clubs that need it.