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If teams don't show for the FA Cup, nor will fans

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Ollie Williams | 17:39 UK time, Sunday, 3 January 2010

Nobody is going to pretend Wigan Athletic v Hull City, on a freezing cold day in January, was a tie likely to sparkle with the fabled verve of an FA Cup classic.

With both teams mired in the Premier League's relegation battle, their supporters - and players, and accountants - have more pressing concerns than chasing some unlikely silverware.

That may be why just 5,335 people turned up to watch. Wigan didn't even bother opening one of their stands, for an all-Premier League clash in the FA Cup third round on what used to be one of the most important days in the domestic football calendar.

Wigan fans were not alone in finding better things to do with the first Saturday of a new decade. Half-empty stadia were in evidence across the country, from Middlesbrough to Portsmouth.

Have the nation's football fans given up on the FA Cup as a meaningful competition?

Mascots at Wigan Athletic v Hull CityThe mascots of Wigan and Hull take advantage of extra leg-room at the DW Stadium

First, I've no desire to embark on some annual bleat about the magic of the FA Cup disappearing - the evidence for that magic is often spurious at best.

Nor is it possible, in one sweeping gesture, to say football has given up on the Cup. Reading fans turned up in numbers to see their team hold Liverpool, and Leeds fans packed their Old Trafford allocation to watch Sunday's humbling of Manchester United. The lower-division team versus the footballing giant is still a Cup story that gets hearts racing.

And yes, the weather was foul on Saturday in many parts of the country, particularly across the north of England. But it is obvious something is wrong with our perception of this competition. It feels like everybody looks forward to the Cup draw and we all think it's a bit special but, when the third round hoves into view, nobody bothers going.

For example, 10,831 people turned up to watch Bradford against Cheltenham, in League Two. That's more than double the Wigan attendance, and it would have cost you £5 more on the door as an adult at Valley Parade than it would at the DW Stadium. (£20 each at Bradford, compared to a knock-down £15 at Wigan, in an unsuccessful bid to bolster the attendance.)

Roy Highton, who represents Wigan's supporters' club, says Wigan did everything they could to get a decent crowd in for the game - but the fans simply weren't bothered.

"It wasn't an attractive tie for a start," he told me from the pub after the game. "I don't think the club could have done anything else. Whether dropping the tickets to £10 each would have got more in or not, I don't know.

"In the Premier League we've been averaging attendances of around 20,000, but today just wasn't attractive at £15, straight after Christmas and with the recession and all that.

"I think £15 is reasonable price for the club to set, though. I'm disappointed about the size of the crowd, but in a way I'm not because I expected it, and it's a bitterly cold day up here, it really is.

"The FA need to do something with the Cup to get it going again. At the third and fourth round stages, it's lost its appeal."

Football Association spokesman Adrian Bevington told BBC Sport the FA "want to reflect on all ties taking place" before commenting on the poor attendances at some matches, but other supporters lay the blame for the crowds (or lack thereof) elsewhere.

Robert Nichols, who edits the Middlesbrough fanzine Fly Me To The Moon, was one of 12,474 supporters who turned up to see Gordon Strachan's Championship side lose 1-0 to a much-changed Manchester City - roughly one third of the Riverside Stadium's capacity.

He puts the sparse attendance down to two factors: the weather and the price of admission.

"It was freezing. It was winter and an absolute blizzard," he said. "I've got somebody stopping with me now who can't get home. They're only trying to get back about 15 miles down the road but some of the roads are impassable tonight. A few people were a bit concerned about that - if they got to the ground, would they be able to get home?

"And secondly, it was full price for a ticket, which put a lot of people off. People who have got season tickets might not be used to paying up to £30 for a game, if they don't go to away games, so that's a big factor.

"The club should have cut the ticket prices to £20 for everyone - it would have made a difference especially just after Christmas. The club definitely made a mistake with the pricing."

I don't have to look very far to find a fan who can tell me all about the cost of following a team on FA Cup day.

My dad, Chris, has fanatically followed Manchester City for decades (for very little reward). He drove from just north of London to Middlesbrough to support City on Saturday. It took 13 hours out of his day to get there, watch the game and get home, and he put the cost (including fuel, a ticket and his obligatory match programme) at around £100.

When I phoned him on Saturday night, he had made it back down as far as the M40. So, did he get value for money?

"Nowhere near," said Williams senior. "It was a terrible game with no atmosphere whatsoever. City played a weakened team, Middlesbrough's fans didn't seem to care about it, and neither did the players on both sides."

Middlesbrough versus Manchester City at the Riverside Stadium, January 2010Middlesbrough and Manchester City take to the field at a thinly-populated Riverside Stadium

He spent most of his day admiring the weather in various parts of England during the journey, and had little time for the suggestion that the cold had put the majority of fans off.

"The weather seemed fairly normal in Middlesbrough, although the snow did get quite heavy going through the Midlands and Yorkshire. And they were playing a Premier League side who - in theory - are challenging for the top four.

"They've had two or three weeks since the last round to buy the tickets, and they didn't know then what the weather was going to be like today." (It is also worth noting that nearby Sunderland attracted 25,190 for their tie with lowly Barrow - nearly 5,000 more than the Black Cats got for Bolton's visit at this stage of last year's competition, even if Barrow were responsible for 8,000 away supporters this time around.)

"I knew the attendance would be low when I got there," he added. "I walked round the whole ground and didn't see more than about 30 or 40 people. There was just nobody there.

"I simply don't think the FA Cup means anything to anyone. I might have been mildly put out if we'd lost, but not that bothered. I'd have been considerably more bothered if we'd lost at Wolves, because the Premier League means a lot more than the FA Cup.

"The Cup has been devalued - not only do top teams field weakened line-ups, but so do teams like Newcastle, who made something like seven changes playing a team in the same division. Clubs at all levels don't take it seriously and neither do the players themselves."

Is this the natural consequence of shifting priorities? Top Premier League teams want to win European trophies, so managers, and players, lose heart when it comes to the domestic competitions. It's nice to win one, yes, but there will be no sleepless nights for the manager if his second string are turned over by some plucky lower-league outfit.

As a fan, you cotton on to your club's way of thinking. If you know your manager is going to rest key players and is treating the game as a sideshow, you think: well, maybe this is the day I rest me and go and do something else. After all, it's cold out, there are kids to entertain, New Year's hangovers to nurse and jobs to be done. If your team aren't taking it seriously, you won't either.

Smaller teams care when they get the chance to become giant-killers against the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United, so their fans care. But if an average Premier League side sends a weakened team out against another average Premier League side's reserves, the average Premier League fan will react accordingly.

A colleague cynically summed it up by asking, why drive from London to Middlesbrough and back, at great cost in time and money, to watch Benjani up front?

Did you go to one of the weekend's FA Cup games? Or did you decide to stay away because you had better things to do, and could use the money in the weeks after Christmas? Did the weather make a difference? And will FA Cup third round day, that great beacon in the football calendar, ever again command the attention it once did?


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  • Comment number 1.

    I think one of the reasons is that fans more than ever associate their teams position in the league with the long term health and success of there club.

    A cup run is all well and good, and a nice pay-day for a smaller team but for a mid-table prem team is doesn't mean much and for a top 6 club, they're more interested in Europe.

    As portsmouth are proving, winning the FA Cup is pretty meaningless achievement if you've had to push yourself to the brink of meltdown to achieve it.

  • Comment number 2.

    I still love FA Cup weekends, especially the first and second rounds as it's a chance to see the smaller teams play live on TV who you usually wouldn't see. The problem with the third round is the expectation of many a fan. As a Wednesday fan I can't remember the last time we had a decent draw. This year saw us pitted against Crystal Palace which hardly set the pulse racing. Perhaps Boro v Man C didn't hold the same appeal for Boro fans as they have been in the Premier League recently but had Wednesday got Man City I can assure you there would have been much greater interest.

    For me there's two obvious solutions to the stipulated problems:

    1. You can grant the FA Cup winners the fourth Champions League qualifying spot. That would certainly make teams take it a bit more seriously. For those who doubt this as a realistic prospect, the same could have been said years ago about the possibility of the League Cup winners gaining a UEFA Cup spot. Should a team that wins the FA Cup already finish in the top three, the fourth spot could revert back to the fourth spot team in the Premier League.

    2. Alternatively, the draw could be split in the earlier rounds to prevent clubs from the same division playing each other. The FA Cup is supposed to provide a bit of variety from the usual League schedule so there's nothing worse when you get drawn against a team from the same League. If the World Cup draw can prevent teams from the same qualification region playing each other in the group stage, the FA Cup draw could certainly take on a similar approach regarding teams from the same division. That would ensure that come the third round, twenty premier league teams would line up against football league or non-league opposition, which apart from making the draw more exciting would also make it more financially lucrative for the smaller teams holding out for such a draw.

  • Comment number 3.

    I live in Bristol, however I am a Spurs Season Ticket Holder and attend most of our away games as well. The FA Cup is very important to me and you do not need me to tell you about Spurs rich heritage in the competition. I set off as usual on Saturday morning for the train station and the fact we were playing Peterborough did not lessen my commitment anymore than if we had been playing Man Utd. Spurs had a 'sold out' crowd at The Lane of 35,862 with a boistrous 4,000 from Peterborough, made 5 'like-for-like' changes to the team and set about dismantling Peterborough with some excellent free-flowing football. I returned 10 hours later to Bristol after a thoroughly enjoyable day out. Yes, this game was included on my season ticket, however Spurs reduced tickets to £20 & £25 for adults throughout the ground and this would have had no adverse effect on my decision to attend the game. Weather does not bother me, I have lived in England for 30 years now and know what to expect! The attendances elsewhere did surprise me but I hope this is not the demise of a great knock out competition??? NB: Well played Joe Lewis yesterday, MOM performance for Peterborough.

  • Comment number 4.

    agree with wednesdaymorgs 1st solution, winners of the FA cup have far more claim to be in the "champions league" then the person who finishes 4th

    the other benefit of this is, on the occasions when someone outside the big 4 wins it, which i think, apart from Chelsea, looks likely this year champions league money would be spread around the premier league giving every team more of an equal financial footing, and could ultimately make the league more competitive

    I was at the blackpool ipswich game, and although the atmosphere was shockingly quiet, especially from the ipswich fans, i though it was a really good turn out.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm sorry but teams like Wigan and Middlesborough always get rubbish attendances, I see loads of empty spaces at their stadiums every week on T.V. I support Spurs and when Wigan came to the lane their fans only half filled the away section (probably a good thing for them on the day).
    I reckon this is mainly because both teams are having lackluster seasons, going nowhere and not only that they both play dull, unimaginative football and bairly show any drive, fight or ambition. I can't really see Wigan getting relegated this season, so I think in that case a good F.A cup run is what they need to kick start their distinctly mediocre season.

  • Comment number 6.

    me and my cousin decided late on thursday night that we would follow our beloved manchester city up to middlesbrough this weekend, however not having any idea of the conditions that we would face.

    immediately after joining the m62 just outside manchester we were halted by what can only be described as a blizzard, a blizzard which lasted for at least an hour, during which time we were limited to doing 5 mph in the outside lane of the motorway. as we were held up more and more by the unusual conditions the sat nav's estimated arrival time kept on changing nearer and near to kick off until it was 2.20pm at one point, even though we had left manchester at 9am!!

    finally we made it to the ground in ually go ahead in good time for kick off after the snow had cleared only for there to be a question mark over whether the game would actually go ahead. imagine the feeling amonst the 3,000 city fans. when the game was finally confirmed as being 'on' we were then slapped in the face when we saw the team that we had travelled 3 hours to watch. in the stands watching the game the temperature was arctic, as you can imagine in middlesbrough on the 2nd january. all parts of our bodies were numb by the time full time came, and as we struggled back to the car we were unable to forget that we had the same 3 hour journey home in the snow to contend with. luckily the blizzard had ceased and we were able to get back home considerably faster than before the game.

    eventually we got back home at 8.30pm, having set off into the freezing cold at 9am that morning with only a benjani goal to celebrate.

    3,000 other city fans probably had a similar experience on saturday, and it is for the efforts of all of us that i have shared my day with you here, and to show that all those wigan fans who didnt even turn up when their team was at HOME is disgraceful. im sure if wigan had been playing one of the big 4 the stayaway fans would have been somehow able to go to the game!! its all about how much the fans love their club and evidently wigan are sadly not a very well supported club.

    despite all the difficulties in getting there and the weakened team that mancini put out, we had a great away day - and it is because we love our football club and are proper fans that we, like so many others (notably newcastle fans who went to plymouth) made the effort to support them through thick and thin.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think it's a little harsh to say Man City as a club, or their fans, aren't interested in the FA Cup.

    From the club's point of view, the team selection was influenced by the fixture they're playing on Wednesday... first leg of a cup semi-final against local rivals.

    From the travelling supporters point of view, while Ollie's dad coming up the M40/M1 might not have been too tough, heading east on the M62, A59 or A66 from the Lancashire side of the Pennines is a different kettle of rocksalt.

    The wife's family are from Redcar, so I've done the trip a few times over the years... and it's not even that easy (or cheap) getting there by train!!

  • Comment number 8.

    I think both of wednesdaymorgs suggestions (post #2) would revitalise this competition. We have two domestic cups with effectively the same prize. The only things that distinguishes the FA cup are its age and the romance of a non-league club playing at a 40,000+ seater stadium and earning a decent amount of money.
    Do any other European countries have two domestic cups? From what I see there is little interest in the cup competitions there anyway.
    In the top two divisions how many clubs are not looking toward European places or are not worried about relegation to have the luxury of planning formations for the next FA/league/Copa del Rey game?

    A pity as I do remember the FA cup as really meaning something not that long ago (and as a Man City fan would like to get our own back vs Spurs).

  • Comment number 9.

    As a Middlesbrough fan who didn't go to the game there were several reasons for my absence and, in my opinion, the absence of a lot of others as well.

    Firstly, there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that we will actually win the FA Cup. Not a chance. At least when we were in the Premier League we had an outside chance and actually managed to go quite far on occasion. This is compounded by the fact that, in Manchester City, we were playing a team which, even with their reserves out, will beat us 99.999% of the time. It is therefore very difficult to motivate yourself to take interest in the game itself, nevermind the entire competition.

    Secondly, the price of the game was a large factor. I believe £25-£30 was the price range for tickets for the match. Boro's ticket prices are too high at the best of times but to pay £30 to see us play a match with absolutely no chance of winning, in an impossible competition, in the midst of a recession and in an area which is losing jobs my the thousands, simply wasn't going to happen for a lot of people.

    Finally, the relationship between the football club and the fans has fallen to what must be near to an all time low. Fans have been drifting away at an alarming rate over a number of years as a result of a catastrophic mismanagement. Hiring Southgate as manager, some truly spineless performances, our relegation and yet more spineless performances have culminated in a kind of general apathy towards the club, where 5 nil humiliations and the pathetic surrendering of games are commonplace and raise barely an eyebrow.

    The FA Cup is meaningless for clubs outside of the Premier League because they have no chance of winning it, it is meaningless to clubs in the Premier League and outside of the top 10 because it is very unlikely that they are going to win it and they are more concerned about relegation, it is meaningless to those within the top ten but who aren't the established top 4 because they most likely wont win it and they would rather concentrate on qualifying for Europe and finally it is meaningless for Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and United because, while they could probably win it with relative ease, they have bigger fish to fry.

  • Comment number 10.

    The FA Cup probably will never recover the magic it once had.

    I think people forget, pre 83, you rarely saw club football on TV.

    The FA Cup Final was the only occasion that a live domestic match was shown on TV. Thus it was 50/50 what was more important the League or the Cup.

    That was why IMO, the Cup was so special.

  • Comment number 11.

    As a Barrow AFC fan the last 2 seasons of the F.A cup have been great for us, potential giant killers , last year third round against Middlesbrough got beat 2-1 took 7000 fans , this year Sunderland got beat again 3-0, this time nearly 8000 fans travelled to the north east,nearly 3000 more than attended the Wigan- Hull game, but what a great atmosphere on both occasions.
    The magic of the F.A cup is great for us non league clubs and maybe next year we'll make it to the fourth round, whats the chances of us gettin Newcastle to make it three north east teams in three seasons
    Well done Barrow for another great performance.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm very happy that Man City fans aren't being berated here, and as a lifelong season ticket holder who regularly goes to away games (all draws for me this season), I feel embarrassed by the other north-west clubs who regularly give parts of english football bad press. I think this all stems from the type of football they play. Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn all play very physical unattractive football, and as a result, fans aren't interested. They look around them and see City, United, Liverpool, Everton and most importantly Burnley playing nice football, and they either go there, or go nowhere. Burnley are a prime example of a team, just down the road from Blackburn, with a stadium of 10,000 less, who enjoy terrific support.

    I think its the club's fault, although they could lessen the blow with pricing strategies. City have got this spot on in the last two years, with all under 16's season tickets costing £95, that's exactly £5 a game! As well as that, some less exciting games, including cup games such as our quarter final with Arsenal were charged at £1 for kids and £15 for adults. Needless to say, the stadium was full, creating a carnival atmosphere that propelled us to a 3-0 victory. Our home form has been superb the past two years.

    Finally, in response to the Champion's League reward. If the winner's of the FA Cup get a Champion's League spot, we'll see the FA Cup being monopolised by the big teams and primarily the top 4 in a race to get into the Champion's League. This will ruin the magic of the cup and we will not see the likes of Leeds beating United, Havant and Waterlooville's heroics at Anfield, nor would we see Millwall, Cardiff, or even Southampton, Portsmouth and West Ham anywhere near the finals! I think that in order to make it more attractive to those outside the top 4, but not vital to those in it - and I'm slightly biased here as we're breaking into the top 4. The winners of the FA Cup should play a pre-season play off at home to the 4th placed team to see who gets the Champion's League spot. Unless a team from the top 4 wins it, in which case 4th place gets the spot.

  • Comment number 13.

    Totally agree with wednesdaymorgs. the competiton needs to be more lucrative for prem clubs and teams who get the same teams from their league.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the club, as well as the competition. For example, Wigan are a disgrace when it comes to home support. They barely muster a half-decent crowd for Premier League games, let alone an FA Cup tie that which has already been pointed out is not exactly a priority on the 2nd of January for most fans. So that example of 5,000 fans isn't exactly a surprise - it's the nature of that club.

    But the FA Cup has become less and less of a priority each year. It only becomes a priority for the top clubs later in the competition if they're still in it and want to get that trophy for next season's team photo. Alex Ferguson putting out his reserves last season in the semi final when he still had a very realistic shot at the treble says it all really. Would he have done that 10 years ago? Of course he wouldn't, and he didn't.

    The problem is the FA, the body that runs the competition, has allowed it to go very stale. It has relied on the FA Cup being the traditional football competition in England for 20 years too long now. I'm not that old but have heard stories where when winning the FA Cup was more prised than winning the league championship as late as the 1960s, because of the day out at Wembley amongst other things. The format of the cup needs revitalising in some way, nothing radical, but something to get the crowds in. One thing we should consider also is that domestic cup competitions are not exactly popular in other European countries either. Far less so than in England in fact. Maybe there is nothing they can do about it. Football has changed, and it changed a long time ago. It doesn't help the cup when there are bad draws and poor ties are shown on the television. Unlike the league, you can never be guaranteed a good cup draw.

    Yet another bad thing about the cup are the television broadcast rights holders. ITV are truly shocking football broadcasters. They don't invest any expertise in both their commentary or punitry/presenting to make their coverage interesting, and ESPN and before that Setanta are similar too. Sky lead the way in that department yet they don't have the rights, and the BBC have lost the rights unfortunately and they generally did an OK job of covering the cup.

  • Comment number 15.

    The Carling cup more important than the FA cup ????
    So, it's more important who you are playing.City beat United, but lose the Final.The fans at City don't care.We beat United.

  • Comment number 16.

    I was at the Southampton vs Luton match on Saturday, and there was a crowd of nearly 19000 there, despite it being a League 1 team and a Conference team....

    I think it's distinctly unfair on the FA cup to say that it has lost its magic. Many fans really relish the chance of a cup tie against a local rival or a big club, and it offers chances of good days out and for the lesser known teams(or clubs fallen from the heights like Leeds)to grab some headlines and make a name for themselves.

  • Comment number 17.

    Last week I went into Plymouth Arygle's shop in the Mall, and was told that granstand tickets were £24... So that makes £48 for me and the misses to watch a load of rubbish in the Championship. What a rip off £24 per person to watch Plymouth v Newcastle in the FA Cup... No wonder people stay away from football matches at these stupid prices. My misses used to be a season ticket holder, but after the rubbish they dished up and palmed her off with as football, it's no wonder why she didn't bother anymore to go to matches.
    I wouldn't have minded paying £24 to watch one of the Premiers top 4... but Plymouth... well, it says it all doesn't it.

  • Comment number 18.

    @9 Alex, I really wish people would read your post over and over again before they lazily comment about our dwindling crowds. People just can't afford it, and we are luckily to get the crowds we are getting now under the current recession. If you go back as far as the 80's, the crowds were just as pitiful at times in the old second division during the harsh Thatcher years. However unlike those dreaded years, ticket prices weren't as high for the unemployed back then.

    I think its far too easy for a supporter of a big club to have a pop about such things because let’s be honest they don't have these problems to worry about nor do they a simple grasp of economic and social restraints hitting clubs at the lower end of the table. Simply put, we don't have the higher level of fair-weather fans able to fill the places like in such grounds when the going gets tough. Nor do we have the population and catchment area to ever get a big enough fan base to draw 30,000 in a blizzard against a side with enough money to buy up the entire football league.

    Added to the fact that no barn doors and banjos have been moved for some time on Teesside we aren't exactly winning people over who go to the games off and on at home.

    Oddly this in contrast to our away following - which often includes the large Teesside diaspora across the country. We took 4 and half thousand fans to suffer that dire performance at Barnsley during the Christmas period and yet nobody ever mentions such things like that.

    PS: I would love Benjani in our side. A lot better than Marcus Bent that's for sure.

  • Comment number 19.

    some really good, insightful comments on this blog.

    @ Aarfy_Aardvark

    i particularly enjoyed your contribution.

    ps) you can have benjani if you want him but you'll need to arrange your own transport to collect.

  • Comment number 20.

    Typical City fans from London :D

    Joking aside it's the affects of the Premier League and Champions League in their modern money spinning forms. There is still prestige in winning the cup, but there isn't the same amount of money compared to that which a teams gets for a good run in the Champions League/Getting into the top 4/staying in the Prem/getting promotion into the Prem. The directors and owners are now saying finishing 4th is the order of the day over the glory of winning a trophy, because in the end of the day what matters to them is money. The manager then pick their teams as such because like any other human they value their jobs. I bet there isn't a professional English player this weekend that didn't want to be part of the action.

    For me the solution is clear. 4th Champions League spot goes to the FA Cup winner (runner up, not 4th if winner is already in the top 3). This would give added incentive to the nearly teams (Villa, City, Spurs, Everton), break up the big four (even as a supporter of one of those clubs I want this). It'd bring back a bit of unpredictability into the entire structure of English football. And with regards to the point Feed The Goat made only 1 none big 4 side won it in the last decade! So the "monopolisation of the FA Cup" argument already appears to be out of the picture... instead think of how earning Champions League football over UEFA Cup (at Liverpool expense they finished 4th that year) would've benefited Portsmouth. What if Villa hadn't give up on "cup distractions" to try to get to 4th. Trust me, it would work. The only thing is would UEFA allow this? Would the Premier League let this happen? We all know the big 4 are very influential to the vote, and they wouldn't want to lose their "Champions League guarantee" status... Could the FA enforce it without the Premier League vote?

  • Comment number 21.

    High-ranking Premier League sides play second-strings because the money is in Europa/Champions League qualification. Low-ranking Premier League sides play second-strings because the money is on Premier League survival. Basically it's the same old story, further evidence the money is wrecking the top-level of football. A fair few Premier League managers might as well post 6 points to Fergie at the start of every season with how they approach their fixtures.

    I was privileged to be among the 9,000 Leeds fans at Old Trafford today to witness Man United's most embarrassing defeat under Ferguson's reign. Old Rednose was always going to take this game seriously. The rivalry means too much, we are flying high in League One and were a credible threat at full strength (and under Simon Grayson we ALWAYS set out to win a game). Not to mention of course that they are wallowing in a rather large amount of debt at the moment and our historic victory today, which will probably still be talked about in 100 years, has probably cost them a few million in ticket receipts and television revenue for later rounds. And that feels rather sweet.

    Not to mention, we've proved to those Premier League managers that if you actually turn up and play at Old Trafford, you can win!

  • Comment number 22.

    @James McConnel

    Errr... please reread what I posted.

    You have two fixtures within 4 days of each other. In one tie, you're in the last four... in the other you're in the last SIXTY four.

    Just ask Villa and Blackburn which game is more important, ignoring any romance and just looking at it from a strictly financial point of view. Both clubs fielded below par sides against each other on Saturday, but are unlikely to do so on Tuesday night, when they face each other again.

    I'm not saying the chance to knock United out of a cup isn't a contributing factor from the fans perspective... but the hierarchy at the club will have their own priorities, and silverware in the hand is always preferable to silverware on the horizon. 2 matches over the next 2 weeks and then a potential trip to Wembeley is a lot easier to plan for than upto 6 matches (not including replays!) over the next 4 months. Anything could happen in those 4 months.

    The financial realities are... Champions League is where the big money is, and the only route there is via Premier League performance. It's not even about "European Football" anymore. That arch-pragmatist Harry Redknapp actually managed, last season, to pull off a unique double in getting 2 different clubs eliminated from the UEFA Cup by fielding understrength teams, to permit his club(s) to concentrate on the domestic league. City had their best season in Europe that I can remember last year, but Liverpool fans still regard "Thursday Night, Channel 5" as a bitter taunt to swallow coming from Chelsea, United and Arsenal fans this year.

  • Comment number 23.

    The thing I find strange is that should their team progress, all these 'fans' suddenly regain an interest. That's football fans all over, certainly Premier League ones. Most teams' best chance of any glory or silverware lies in the Cup competitions. At least a victory over a bigger club has some value there. Wigan beat Chelsea in the League and it matters not a jot; Chelsea are still near the top and Wigan are still nowhere. The same in an FA Cup tie and it has a finality, Leeds beat Man U and they stay beaten in that competition.

    Perhaps there are too many league games? How about five divisions and 30 games a year?

  • Comment number 24.

    One other idea, which I think operates in France and Germany. When two teams from different divisions are drawn to meet, the lower division side plays at home.

  • Comment number 25.

    I am a Hull City fan & my Eldest is a Wigan fan. We live in Leeds and didnt go because the last time he went, it was almost impossible to get to the ground because of ice. as someone who has broken an ankle once on ice, I wasn't prepared to risk it.
    I was quite happy to see City go out as we can now (to steal a phrase) concentrate on the league and survival.
    Much better to be a premiership team next season than to be a cup winning (FANTASY) championship side.

  • Comment number 26.

    Who wants to watch Wigan vs. Hull, Certainly ive got much better things to do like experience the thrilling match that was on between Machester United and Leeds. One name to remember united fans, one name, JERMAINE BECKFORD

  • Comment number 27.

    The crowd at Bradford City was due to cheap season tickets. The vast majority of people are paying £6 per game for Bradford City matches and buy tickets in advance, in fact they are selling season tickets for next year now at a discounted rate. If everyone had to pay £20 then the ground would be empty.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ive just seen the highlights for Chelsea 5 - 0 Watford, Man Utd 0 - 1 Leeds, West Ham 1 - 2 Arsenal and Reading 1 - 1 Liverpool. Without doubt Chelsae are playing at theor best this season, even wothout Drogba, im saying this as a Liverpool Fan, but I believe Arsenal will win the premiership. I also saw Wigan vs. Hull just to see the empty seats in the stand, shocking really, I thought watching Wigan who are such a good team was actually entertaining, turns out Wigan Fans didn't want to go and see their team win in a Five goal brilliant game. These are my predictions for the season:

    Arsenal for the Premierlague

    Liverpool for UEFA Europa League Cup

    Man U for the Carling Cup

    Chelsea for the FA cup

    Barcelona for the Champions League

    There I said it, please dont criticise me for these predictions, they were just at the top of my mind, I just thought I could share them with you!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Boro couldn't sell their tickets for top PL fixtures, never mind for an FA Cup 3rd round tie, in appalling conditions, at £30 a head, against a manufactured side which epitomises the ruination of the game.

    But let's just remember exactly why this venerable competition is in such a mess - Man Utd deciding to ditch the competition altogether in order to take on a money-spinning jolly ten years ago, from which it never recovered.

  • Comment number 30.

    I travelled down to Stamford Bridge to see Watford get trounced 5 - 0. The stadium was fairly full, attendance was around 40,000 I think, and that's definitely enough people to create an atmosphere.

    I know I can't say much coming from a Watford fan, and you'll know what I mean if you've visited Vicarage Road, but one of the best teams in Europe at home at near full capacity, winning 5 - 0, and there was still a eerie silence for parts of the game coming from the 3/4 of the stadium in blue.

    Not only that, at 83 minutes, 5-0 up, you could see a streams of 'fans' heading for the exits. They couldn't even be bothered to clap off their team that had provided them with 5 goals worth of entertainment. Pathetic Chelsea fans.

    You'd have forgiven the Watford fans for leaving early at 83 minutes, but the majority of the away fans sang the full 95 minutes, even when there was no way back after going in at half time 3 nil down.

    Not sure if that's anything to do with the FA Cup, or they think we were worthless opposition; they expected to see a win and hence the players didn't deserve an applause off the field.

    Either one, the cup ties are games non-Premiership supporters look forward to and revel at. Seeing Watford get demolished 5 nil was awful, but I'd much rather be there clapping a demoralised team off the field than heading my way home early thinking I've simply got my money's worth of entertainment in five goals and that's all I came for.

  • Comment number 31.

    And as for giving the Cup winner a CL spot - are people seriously suggesting that entry into the biggest club competition in the world should be based not on 38 games, but six?

  • Comment number 32.

    I think the magic isn't just draining from the FA Cup, it's draining from Football itself----teams that are doing well can buck the trend with their fans prepared to buy into the 'success'---but at the end of the day the 'Glory Game' became the 'Money Game' when clubs stopped sharing the home gate receipts decades back.

    That's when 'winning cups' began to take second place to 'securing the future', the future being secured by position and ability to earn enough money to compete (which actually for most clubs means never earning enough to compete in any real sense.)

    Since then it has been a gradient leading to smaller and smaller numbers of what used to be Clubs, and are still called 'clubs', but are basically large leisure and media businesses.

    This process will only continue unless one of those disruptive events occurs (as occurred to capitalism in the Credit Crunch)-- indeed it's the credit crunch that has highlighted the process, with Manchester United now crippled by a debt so large that probably only directly owning it's 'own' TV and internet rights will solve, Liverpool likewise to a degree.

    The only other solution seems to be for even our largest football businesses to be bailed out by the very largest companies, and even nation-states, in the world, who don't want them as profit generators in their own right but as vehicles for larger business models, or even for Political reasons.

    The FA Cup, and the Carling Cup, highlight the problem but it's already starting to affect the Premier League as well (Wolves Reserves v Man Utd recently)... and of course teams who pay lip service to 'getting into Europe' in fact often play weakened teams when they get there via the Uefa cup, or Europa league or whatever it's called.

    I'd better stop droning on..but I'll finish by saying (and I stand to be corrected by anyone with a better memory) I remember a few years back when Liverpool won the Carling Cup, in a decent game, and beat Alves in a really good game, were in the FA Cup final (and maybe won that as well) but ahead of it Gerard Houllier said that some no-mark final league game was 'by far the most important of the season' because it meant the difference between Liverpool coming 4th or not------ and that he'd swap all three cups for a win in this league game.

    You can't blame Houllier...he was only telling it like it is.

  • Comment number 33.

    Went to Fulham's FA Cup match vs Swindon Town last Saturday. Ticket prices were reduced and the ground 95% full. Much to my suprise, Fulham fielded an almost full-strength team (Johnson & Zamora upfront) rather than playing the reserves.

    Swindon supporters packed the away supporters end and made a huge noise. This definitely gave their team huge confidence and they played accordingly. Fulham were ultimately lucky to escape with a 1-0 score. A draw would have been fair. Swindon played the more attractive and often attacking football. All credit to them.

  • Comment number 34.


    While I can't recall Ged ever referring to any game as 'no-mark', nobody can blame the man - or any manager of a recognised top 4 club - for concentrating on league position when the financial case is so overwhelming, especially in these days of ridiculously-priced players which are only available thanks to the money coming from PL and CL participation and the insistence of the owners of these clubs that lack of involvement means the manager's P45.

  • Comment number 35.

    #9 (Alex) - I understand where you're coming from as a fan of one of the biggest Championship sides but Barrow have no chance of winning the FA Cup and Sunderland would beat us 99.999% of the time, but none of that put me off going to Sunderland - I can assure you that the FA Cup is not meaningless to ALL teams outside the Premier League.

    I left my house at 6:15am to get to Sunderland for the game as I live just West of London. We travelled on the train on a group booking with the Sunderland National Supporters Club - thanks to the lady that extended the invitation. There were probably more Barrow fans than Sunderland in the carriage!

    Despite being in the NorthEast, I didn't feel the cold at all during the game but then I was in the middle of 8000 people and there was plenty of clapping and singing going on. The highlights did not do Barrow justice - the first half was even and we could easily have gone in level or even ahead with a bit of luck.

    Athletes against boys in the second half but Barrow were brilliant nonetheless and the day flew by as I climbed into bed at around 11:30pm. Magic of the cup? Fantastic day out, well worth it - for me, for the players and certainly for the club. Brilliant stuff.

  • Comment number 36.

    Tottenham v Peterborough was a sell out! Just show's how well supported Spurs are.. good travelling support from the posh too!

  • Comment number 37.

    Why do people want a champs league place for FA Cup winners when only one team outside of the top four has won the cup in tha last 15 yrs - totally pointless...

  • Comment number 38.

    #30.. I'm unsure if you were in the top or lower tier of the Shed End, but I have to say this statement "You'd have forgiven the Watford fans for leaving early at 83 minutes, but the majority of the away fans sang the full 95 minutes" is completely off the mark from the view of I had down the other end.. you would have barely had 50% of your support there at the final whistle..

    I take nothing away from your point about the 3/4 of the chelsea support being quiet, thats standard.. you have to be in the matthew harding end to get anything of a decent atmosphere. (Or Shed End for league matches) Having said that I only heard your mob once in the whole game!! and that was just your ole's having managed 5 passes on the trot! haha.. you may have been singing but we couldn't hear ya.

    Furthermore I'm happy to put a number of "chelsea support" in the "pathetic" category as well... its well known that the majority of the east stand is corporate and or the family section and the west stand is either tourists or west enders wanting to be seen at the footy... but that comes with success and theres very little we can do about it.

    Final point, I was at Vicarage Road last year for our win in the cup.. do you recall seeing any of our support leave early that day?

  • Comment number 39.

    I’ve been a Wigan Athletic fan for 25 seasons, not missed a game home or away for some of those and seen my team play in all four divisions at over 80 grounds so I’m not about to make excuses for myself, just to pass a few comments about this witch hunt against my team.

    Bradford is a city three and a half times the size of Wigan (293k v 81k) so I should think they would get bigger crowds, cheap tickets or not

    As for the Barrow fans having a pop well if you get 8,000 fans on at your next home game, then fair play to you but I suspect it will be a tenth of that. No offence and I’m sure you enjoyed your day out and Wigan Athletic used to take some great followings to big away FA Cup ties when we were a lower division club, most notably 20,000 to Everton in January 1980.

    The thing is all the vitriol is aimed at Wigan fans yet there are thousands of armchair fans in this small town who sit in the pub and support (in the loosest sense) United, Liverpool or City and Everton and join in laughing at us when everyone else puts the boot in. Yet they are the root of the problem and the ones who deserve the stick by not supporting their local team.

    Football used to be community based but nowadays is determined by which team is on the telly the most. Wigan Athletic have had great success over the last few years to get where we are but are still not good enough in the eyes of the gloryhunters in Wigan compared to United or Liverpool whom they attach themselves to.

    Even when we looked like getting into the UEFA Cup, they still said 'Well it's not the Champions League' and this is from lads from Wigan who I went to school with!! With a mentality like that what chance does the club have?

    That said, it’s clear that a good proportion of the home WAFC season ticket holders stayed away after suffering a 5-0 drubbing midweek and the difference between Wigan and many other Premier League clubs is that if someone doesn’t use their seat, there is no-one else there to fill it unlike at Old Trafford & Highbury. I’m not going to knock Wigan Athletic season ticket holders though as we’ve gone from having around 600 15 years ago to over 11,000 now.

    Finally, Hull fans sang to us on Saturday ‘You’re ground’s too big for you’ – more cheap jibes but in this case something I absolutely agree with. The likes of Hull only used to have a few thousand fans rattling around Boothferry Park in the lower divisions a few years ago just like us but because it again like Bradford is a big city, they have a much bigger catchment of support to call upon. Plus in Hull, a lot of the rugby fans support football as well whereas rugby fans in Wigan hate the football club for having the audacity to exist and steal their limelight for the last few years. There are enough people in Hull to fill the KC Stadium, but they are correct in saying our ground is too big for us. Given that the rugby average 14k and the football team get 18k then a 20,000 seater stadium would have been perfect for the town of Wigan and most Premier League games might have been reporting from ‘a packed DW Stadium’ rather than a half empty one........

  • Comment number 40.

    Andie99UK I don't know how you can say it was almost impossible to get to the Wigan V Hull game on saturday, as it wasn't at all. If that was the case how did 1800 or so Hull fans manage to make the trip. If you live in Leeds you also wouldn't have had as far to travel.

    I'm also a Hull fan and I made the trip to the DW to see my team. I also don't understand how anyone can say they're pleased they have been knocked out so they can "concentrate on the league". I'd much rather see Hull City get relegated and win the FA Cup, than stay up and just get knocked out in the 3rd round. I'm not saying we ever had a chance of winning it, but you just never know. I think some people have forgotton what supporting a football club is about. Everyone seems to think the Premiership is the bee all and end all. It's not.

    I go to see Hull City to watch them win. At the end of the day if we've lost to Man Utd or we've lost to Mansfield, you still go home with the same feeling. Winning the FA Cup would mean so much more than staying up. It's the Premier League which has ruined the magic of the FA Cup.

  • Comment number 41.

    Oh and another point those who are saying Wigan play unattractive football, have you actually seen us play this season since Roberto Martinez came along??

    The reason we've been getting tonked so many times is because we've been trying to play football against the likes of Arsenal, United, Spurs etc. When it works it's as good as any football you'll see but as we're new at it and big clubs do it better it's not quite coming off at the minute.

    The famous 5,355 certainly got their money's worth 2nd half on Saturday.....

  • Comment number 42.

    surprised at some attendances. we (arsenal) sold out our allocation at upton park, and west hams pricing policy was to be commended, yet there were only 25000 there. wigan doesn't surprise me. their fans are a disgrace and don't deserve top flight football, but the cup romance has not died. i remember cambridge last year taking their full allocation to wolves, fans hopefull but never expectant. hardly a glamour tie!
    "the romance of the cup" is just an old cliche trotted out every year. as this was fergies 1st defeat in the 3rd round and 1st loss to a lower league team, the cup shock is a thing of fable rather than fact.

  • Comment number 43.

    Problem with the FA Cup is that clubs wont accept REALITY and that is most fans won't pay Premier League prices (which are already extorionate, considering the money clubs get from Sky & ESPN) to see FA Cup football.
    Prices should be family orientated, like £10/15/20 adults and Maximum £10 under 16s to get the grounds full, otherwise broadcasters wont show their teams live.

    Its not that people have fallen out of love with the CUP, its more like they're fed up of being ripped off by their clubs and decide to vote with their feet when they get the chance. I rang up my local radio station years ago (2003 ish) and said that £28 to watch Premier League football was too expensive because if 3 people go its basically £100. Nothing has changed since. Attendances at most grounds are falling (some slowly, some rapidly >>wigan, bolton) because clubs aren't doing enough and take fans for granted. Some clubs who are now doing well like Aston Villa are seeing rises, but they buck the trend.

    The corporate line of "rising attendances in the Championship" is only because teams with big stadiums keep getting relegated frm the Premiership, meaning total attendances in the division are up, rather than focusing on % capacity which tells a different story. Most of the Championship games are absolutely atrocious on sky to watch.

    Football clubs have spent too long taking fans for granted. Its time they gave something back.

  • Comment number 44.

    #30 It is typical stuff typed out by opposition supporters, particularly those travelling from lower league clubs. Unfortunately at times that's Chelsea 'supporters' to a tea. I don't think it helped you were in The Shed, dangerously close to the netoriously quiet West Stand and the furthest point from our equivalent of 'The Kop', The Matthew Harding Stand.

    However the effect of being quiet and people leaving is increased in the early rounds of the cup (as well as it being bitterly cold yesterday - I''ve never been colder at a game and I'm approaching treble figures of Chelsea games attended) because they often go on general sale, unlike most other games, and therefore you have causual supporters coming to the game so that shouldn't necessarily reflect on all supporters. Personally I am in favour of that, and at £25, to get a crowd of 40,900 odd was fantastic. If new fans (my girlfriend attended for the first time with me and loved it despite not liking football that much) get a chance to see the team and catch the bug, I am all for that.

    I'm sure the charge could be also levelled at Hornets fans where plenty of 'plastics' came out of the works for the away day at a top side rather than turning out for say Plymouth away. That's why we barely heard a peep out of the Watford fans all day apart from the odd yellow army, or cheer when Lloyd Doyley touched the ball. While I've never seen some Chelsea fans leaving so early, I don't think it was quite as early as the 83rd minute and some Watford fans were hardly whiter than white.

    You must agree the atmosphere was rocking at the beginning, the best I've seen before a domestic cup tie for a while, and I'm sure it was something to do with the result at Old Trafford. It certainly got me bouncing. The FA cup still is very important for Chelsea fans, due to its history with the club (1970 et al) as well as the fact that for many years it was about the only thing we had a reasonable chance of winning.

    All in all, as far as Chelsea and the FA goes, attendences are still excellent, if a bit quiet in the early rounds, but then again yesterday at times the atmosphere was better than I've heard for a while at The Bridge.

  • Comment number 45.

    I was at the Plymouth-Newcastle game which seemingly has garnered very little coverage, but it had a great atmosphere in no small part due to it being the highest attendance (16,500) of the season, including 2,500 away fans who had travelled down. Great day out all round, even though it wasn't champagne football on display!

  • Comment number 46.

    #38 My thoughts exactly

  • Comment number 47.

    Went to huddersfield v west brom for my sins, the only problem was the bad stewarding getting in, seemed to cater for the once a year big match fans whilst season ticket holders who had bought a ticket in advanced struggled to get in before kickoff. Attendence was quoted at 13500 but being a regular at town games there were a lot more than official attendence showed. Still think the magic of the fa cup is there, well i was gutted town lost!

  • Comment number 48.

    #42 richy royston

    so Wigan Athletic don't deserve Premier League football because they get low crowds?
    Last time I went to a game (Saturday actually) it wasn't the fans trying to kick the ball into the net??
    Using your logic, we should just do away with football matches completely and simply hand the title to Manchester United every August because they've sold the most season tickets.

  • Comment number 49.

    Something I've always found amusing when it comes to these sort of debates is the bandying-around of the term "fickle fans" when it comes to attending Cup games.

    It's certainly not an accusation you could level at Boro fans - they're as rubbish at turning out for league games as they are cups.

    But while it's commendable that Barrow took nearly 10K to SOL, perhaps if those people could bother making it to their home league games they could inject enough cash into their club on a regular basis to get out of the conference?

    That to me is as fickle as, say, Chelsea fans not bothering to turn up for a CL home game in their tens of thousands.

  • Comment number 50.

    I went to the Ipswich game in Blackpool and yes the weather was cold, but if you love your football club you still go and show your support. I agree that tickets are too expensive, but if Manchester United had been the visitors to Middlesbrough or Wigan then you can bet your bottom dollar that attendances would've shot up. If the majority of the crowd are season ticket holders, then why pay an extra £15-£30 to watch a another game of football against poor opposition. I don't think the cup has lost the magic with the fans, but when managers field weakened teams, its sometimes hard to justify spending the money watching the reserves, especially in these hard up times.

  • Comment number 51.

    Although the media must take a lot of the blame for fans lack of interest in the FA Cup by dumbing it down, the clubs themselves don't help there cause by also showing a lack of interest. Fans want trophies whereas clubs want cash. Most Premier League clubs have no ambition and since 75% of Premier League clubs will never get to play in the Champions League they are happy to play wek in week out and settle on Premier League survival. The FA Cup is one of two chances of silverware, which in itself brings in bigger crowds.

    If clubs expect low crowds for cup games then cut admission prices and admit kids for free, they are future supporters. 20000 fans paying an average of £5 is better than 5000 paying an average of £15

  • Comment number 52.

    Rafa Benitez came up with the ideal way to keep FA Cup attendences up.

    Get knocked out of the CL early.


  • Comment number 53.

    #31 The Champions League, as it's name suggests should be only for champions of the various European leagues, not for the 4th placed also rans.

    One option that hasn't been mentioned is the cup winners entering the Europa League, as they do now, but the winners of the Europa League qualifying for the following seasons Champions League, if they haven't already done so via their own league.

  • Comment number 54.

    It's not rocket science.

    Some clubs and games don't attract that many fans.

    Some do.

  • Comment number 55.

    31. At 08:47am on 04 Jan 2010, BeyondThePale wrote:
    And as for giving the Cup winner a CL spot - are people seriously suggesting that entry into the biggest club competition in the world should be based not on 38 games, but six?


    Oh I wonder which club you supporter, is it Liverpool, arsenal, man u or chelsea by any chance?!

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm not sure i agree with people that tell me the fa cup has lost its touch. I've seen chelsea play numerous cup ties against small teams such as macclesfield scunthorpe and watford yesterday and every time the attendance has been 40,000 +
    Obviously these teams are going to bring a whole end but for many chelsea fans this is a nothing game, we know we will win and at £20 for an adult it is expensive yet it is the fact it was an fa cup game that drew our fans there. There were more there yesterday than there were when we played pompey a couple of weeks before christmas.
    On the subject of Middlesborough, the fact they had a small crowd doesn't surprise me, they are a relegated team who in comparison to both newcastle and West Brom are struggling. They have recently appointed a poor manager and i think they have just lost complete confidence in the club.

  • Comment number 57.

    "Oh I wonder which club you supporter, is it Liverpool, arsenal, man u or chelsea by any chance?!"

    Liverpool, so it's hardly a foregone conclusion.

    Regardless, the notion of giving entry to the foremost club competition in the world based on six games, half of which could be against such luminaries as Barrow or Boro, is simply crazy.

  • Comment number 58.


    I agree that wigan athletic deserve PL football for the effort they put in building a team, a stadium and trying to fill it. it's the fans that don't deserve the team or their position. i use the example of the match at the emirates this season when wigan took fewer fans than wrexham did to cambridge on the same day. what more dave whelan has to do is beyond me? but the support is a disgrace. and the pies are overated!

  • Comment number 59.

    Being a Wigan Athletic supporter, I thought I'd respond to some of the above ill thought out comments.

    To be honest I did not know the town of Wigan had a Football Team until I was approx eighteen and that was only after a friend's brother was let go by the Latics!

    My lack of awareness back then may have had a mitigating factor - I'm originally from Manchester (blue side of the city). It should also be noted that we are a town divided between 2 sports (the supporters of which dislike each other). Furthermore we are surrounded by Teams (successful teams) WITH history... Liverpool, Everton, Bolton, Man Utd, Man City - the list really does go on and on.

    Support within the borough is increasing, but with a team that's younger than me, and just approx 30yrs old, do people expect the stands to be full?

    Were lucky to get 15,000 home fans, plus away supporters. My wife who hated football is now a season ticket holder like myself. Her sister (a Man U supporter) is a Season Ticket Holder too. The gentlemen to my left was originally a Liverpool fan. The stands I'm sure are full of people like us.

    The towns Men & Women's change of allegiances is the only way the attendances can grow with the above teams all around us, and that only comes from continued Premier League status enabling children to see us as an alternative to the cities to our left and right.

    Now.... with regard to the FA Cup match, I did not go (neither did any of my Wife's family). No part of the reason for the none attendance was the weather. It was FAR worse for the previous League fixture which we all attended.

    The no show stemmed from a lack of hope. At the moment the team don't appear to have any confidence, their heads go down when they concede, and capitulate far too easy. Would any fan, Wigan or not want to keep going week in week out to see the above? I've gone away whenever I can and to any non home League match I can too, even pre season friendlies.

    To their credit their heads didn't go down this time, but until the players look like they believe, we wont and why should we pay to watch performances with out hope.

  • Comment number 60.

    I drove myself and 3 kids from Birmingham to Milton Keynes to see my side Burnley win 2 - 1.
    There were 11000 spectators. It was £19 for adult away fans and £9 for kids. I think that's pretty reasonable. The atmosphere was quite good, largely because there was a good Burnley away following in usual good voice. It was bitterly cold and we were all glad to get the job done and back to the warmth of the car.
    Both sides were at full-strength and it was a decent game to watch. MK Dons plus the usual suspects on the BBC were touting this match as a likely upset given Burnley's dreadful away form but it was never going to happen as Burnley were in control (apart form a frantic stoppage time) for the entire game.
    It's a great pity but yes, the magic of the FA Cupo has gone ; it went some years ago. The "big" clubs have bigger fish to fry and their one and only interest is the Premiership. What a pity.

  • Comment number 61.

    This is not a problem about the weather..though I am sure it did not help.
    For many years I supported Wimbledon, home and away and as one of the founding clubs of the Premiership, they never got or attracted big crouds. We would regulaly get the same number for a home premiership game as we did when we were in the lower divisons. There is a reason for this, and it is not because of their ' route one' style of play. Winning is winning, who cares how you win if you win ( to be honest ).
    Wimbledons problems came from having so many other established teams within a very short distance from them, and it was always going to be an uphill struggle to attract fans of other clubs..Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Charlton and Fulham, to change their allegence and come to Plough Lane..not just a struggle but change your wife quicker than you change your football club.
    On a completely different tack , the FA cup has been devalued by the playing of the semi finals at Wembley, it used to be that part of the excitement of reaching the final was the prospect of a day out at the ( ok so I am old ) twin towers. Now you get that by reaching the that incentive has gone..and who has the money to buy semi and final tickets when it cost around thirty pounds for a run of the mill league game?

  • Comment number 62.

    richyroyston - Your comments really annoy me.

    Please tell me why I (a supporter of Wigan Athletic since 1986) do not deserve to watch my team in the Premiership? Should I not watch Premiership football? Should I go and support Manchester United instead?

    For every win in the football league, you get 3 points, for every draw, you get 1 point and when you dont win, you get 0 points. The club with the most points at the end of the season gets promoted or wins the title, the ones with the least points are relegated from that division. The amount of fans watching the football match cannot contribute for any points. I hope this clears up your confuision to how Wigan got from Division 4 to the premiership.

    The problem with our support is that we have very little history together with previous generations opting to support our near rivals (that are around 20 miles away) such as Man U, Liverpool, Man City, Everton etc...If a new football club started at the bottom of your road, would you stop supporting Arsenal and watch the new team every week???

    As previously pointed out - should Man U be given the title every year because they get 76,000? I think I know your answer!

  • Comment number 63.

    Wigan and Hull were both knocking around the lower two divisions until about ten years ago. 5,335 is their sort of gate once you strip off their 'plastic' Premier League fans.

    The FA scheduling Tranmenre v Wolves for Sunday tea time so they could show it on their web site was the biggest joke of the round.

  • Comment number 64.

    Why is everyone slagging Wigan fans? Surely the Wigan fans are the ones who actually turn up from part of the country where most people support the Manchester or Liverpool clubs?

  • Comment number 65.

    58 richy

    Why should the fans who turn up get penalised for the ones who don't though? As I said earlier the blame can be laid firmly at the door of those thousands of armchair Wiganers who support Liverpool, United et al and yes Arsenal and Chelsea.

    There's Wigan fans who've seen their team 92nd in the entire league not long ago, and had to shell out money to pay player's wages.

    Why shouldn't those few thousand enjoy the dream of seeing their team playing top flight football because there's only 5,000 of them as opposed to 50,000 Geordies.

    You can use the word 'disgrace' as much as you like but Wigan, like every other football club has committed and dedicated fans who don't deserve to be described as such. I was as disappointed as anyone but I was there so how am I a disgrace?? I've probably spent tens of thousands of pounds watching my team up and down the country over the years

    Wigan is a small town competing against big cities

    The only comparable town is Burnley, as even Bolton and Blackburn are much bigger towns - and all three have decades of top flight history behind them and no rugby league team to compete with for what little money people have.

    The fans of Wigan Athletic aren't a disgrace - the people of Wigan who choose NOT to watch Wigan Athletic might be though I'll give you that.

  • Comment number 66.

    Also, I'd like to see some sort of breakdown of attendance in the English Premiership ... if the majority of seats are filled by season ticket holders, if the majority of fans *don't* travel to away games, then it will take a special game to attract supporters to pay the extra £20-£30 to see the early round cup tie ... in Scotland, the Old Firm boast of having a fantastic support, but if either appear in a national cup semi at Hampden, a risible proportion of their fans bother to travel across the same city to see it (not included in season ticket, costs extra, many people not bothered) ... the final will be a sell-out of course ...

  • Comment number 67.

    there definitely needs to be structural changes, but to the whole game in england, not just the fa cup. I'd like to see:
    1) limits to squad sizes. No more than 25 players per squad would help with the weakened team problem, but it would need to be a europe-wide initiative
    2) smaller premiership - as european football expands, so domestic leagues must shrink. 16 teams would be a decent number, and reduce the europa cup spots from the league
    3) carling cup only for teams not in europe. Leave out the big boys so the winners getting a europa cup spot are a fresh face each season in europe
    4) fa cup winners get a champions league spot, and runners-up a europa cup spot (many outside the big four reach the final, but few win it)
    5) prem clubs kept apart in 3rd round of fa cup and, if prem team drawn at home, tickets must be at most half-price of the club's prem ticket prices.

    difficult to bring back the glamour of the old days, but i think at least these might help balance our various competitions a bit better

  • Comment number 68.

    #30 and #44 - as a season ticket holder in Chelsea's generally silent west stand, I agree that our home support tends to be quiet. It was good to see Watford taking their full allocation and they made a bit of noise (although frankly they should not be surprised when they get no response to the boring 'where were you when you were s***' song). However its always much easier to get behind your team and be noisy when you're the away fans. I go to plenty of Chelsea's away games, and the travelling Chelsea supporters are as loud as any of them.

    I agree with the Watford poster about the home supporters leaving early. Yesterday the ground was half empty by the final whistle. I really don't get it - yes I know there are queues after the match to get onto the tube at Fulham Broadway, but it's only a short walk to two other tube stations where you don't get the same queues.

    Yesterday at half time I was standing in a food queue by a dad and his two young sons. The boys spent most of half time asking their dad if they could stay at the match until the end and not leave on 80 minutes. Heartbreaking!!

  • Comment number 69.

    I take your point Rob about the number of games between reaching both finals.
    I stand ( humbly ) corrected.
    Just a pity,as a boy and young (er ) man the hi lite of the season.The FA Cup Final.Shops quiet, no one on the golf course.

  • Comment number 70.


    The FA scheduling Tranmenre v Wolves for Sunday tea time so they could show it on their web site was the biggest joke of the round.


    I think this was scheduled specifically for Setanta before they went bust. It was shown on Setanta Ireland and I guess ESPN would of showed it if they had bought the rights.

  • Comment number 71.


    i agree 100% that it's the non supporters to blame, not the loyalls, but that's true of alot of teams up your way. bolton and blackburn have similar probs. everyone should remember football is a spectator sport and i choose to watch cambridge in the conference, rather than sky sports, if the arsenal aren't playing.
    but i don't understand why the northwest suffers like this, cause there are plenty of people about to watch and the money doesn't sound too bad.

  • Comment number 72.

    40. At 10:12am on 04 Jan 2010, Cyril wrote:
    Andie99UK I don't know how you can say it was almost impossible to get to the Wigan V Hull game on saturday, as it wasn't at all. If that was the case how did 1800 or so Hull fans manage to make the trip. If you live in Leeds you also wouldn't have had as far to travel.

    Cyril, re read my post correctly and you will see that I was saying that my son had problems getting there for a PREVIOUS match as the area around the ground was icebound.
    I see myself as a realist when it comes to Football. City make more money from being in the top flight to clear debts and bring in better players than if we won the FA cup and went into europe next season for a couple of pre season matches before going out to a team from belarous.
    Is the glory of having won the FA cup really worth second tier football and long trips abroad for one season?

  • Comment number 73.

    Anything to be said for using the German cup system for the earlier rounds of the FA Cup? Under German Cup rules, there are two pots for the first round. All the Bundesliga teams and 2. Bundesliga teams (except the newly promoted ones) are seeded while the lower-division teams aren't. All the lower division teams get a home tie against one of the seeded teams. Something similar would generate interest in the third round due to the increased chance of cup upsets and all the lower leagues team would love to get their teeth into a premier league team in their home ground.

  • Comment number 74.


    i'm assuming you watched wigan in those dark days and now have to pinch yourself every now and again to remind yourself the lofty heights you reside at, but are you not surprised at the apathy shown in your town for WAFC? i hear the arguament about man utd and liverpool being nearby, but london has a greater problem, yet charlton, fulham, palace and qpr manage to get around the shadow of north, east and west london teams.

    i respect any supporter that actually supports, but you end up asking yourself "what happened to the 40,000 wigan fans that went to cardiff, or blackburn fans, or the 25000 cambridge fans that went to wembley for the playoffs"?
    the answer? they're watching gilette soccer saturday!
    remember, it's a spectator sport. lose the spectator and no one will watch on tele.

  • Comment number 75.

    Is the magic of the cup dead? I would have said it depends on your targets and where your sights are set. In my case I'm a Brighton fan. Everyone knows we play in arguably the worst stadium in the Football League (although at least it's in Brighton, and a new one is on the way). Given our form this season we are not going to get promoted, and our home form (the worst in the football league) has meant that matches at Withdean have become even less attractive. Hence, when the FA cup arrived in the form of our 1st round away to Wycombe it was good to have a break from the league and hope with some new optimism that we might get to the 3rd round and compete with the top flight. We drew 4-4 away in a crazy game. Won the replay 2-0. Rushden & Diamonds in 2nd round, won 3-2. Then Torquay in 3rd round which we won. Yesterday I was driving back from visiting friends and pulled into Warwick services just after 6pm and sat in the car to listen to the 4th round draw. As the home teams were called out I was either praying we'd be against them, or that we wouldn't be. We could have ended up going to Accrington/Gillingham, but someone up there was smiling on us and we've ended up with a fantastic trip to Villa Park. I punched the air and was over the moon. I day out at Villa Park! It'll be a great occasion for the fans and I would have thought we'll sell out our allocation. Villa fans will obviously think twice about going, but hopefully the home (and away) fans won't be asked to pay full price. Even if you let someone in for £1 they'll probably purchase food and a programme - and the feeling of goodwill may well bring them back for a future match. It's a similar situation to the argument of whether a successful England team matters. The answer is yes, because when you follow a relatively lower level club it's great to be able to follow world class players as well, without feeling disloyal. Also, the finances to be gained from Brighton's game at Villa will go a huge way towards the costs associated with Withdean. One big game can make a HUGE difference at a club like ours. So whilst Wigan & Hull might not see the magic of the cup (and understandably, given the situations of both clubs) I think it is very much alive at our level. Try telling Leeds fans that yesterday didn't matter! Up the Albion and let's hope for a top day out at Villa! :-)

  • Comment number 76.

    What some of you not might realise is the minimum clubs can charge for an adult in the third round is £15

  • Comment number 77.

    Listening to some commentators over the weekend was just laughable.

    What we need to realise is the Premier League or now worldwide EPL is the biggest league in the world. The Championship is probably the 5th biggest league in the world (attendance wise).

    No disrespect to Wigan, Hull, Middlesboro, Sunderland etc but if you look at their average attendances over the years pre EPL / Championship and you will see that this is the level of support they get.

    The leagues may be full of plastic fans but this is what makes our leagues great. Full stadiums and atmospheres.

    I was at White Hart Lane on Saturday and the atmosphere wasn't in the normal die hard areas of the ground. The one's making the noise were areas of the ground allocated for single game tickets so those that were there enjoyed being there as normally they wouldn't be able to get tickets.

    I think this is the major issue. Clubs like Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Boro, Sunderland etc have these huge grounds with support levels far lower than their capacities so tickets are always available. If you have the mindset that you can always pay on turnstiles then you won't bother buying in advance and if the snow is bucketing down on the day you may give the game a rest.

    At Spurs we don't have that problem. Quite the opposite. all games are sold out (home allocation) so our fans are used to buying their tickets in advance and those that are constantly disappointed snap up tickets when they are available. Very rarely will you see blue seats in mass at the Lane.

    However this may all change when we move into our new stadium with a further 20,000 capacity. Will our supporters who can get tickets every week bother turning up for Peterborough ?

    What I am trying to say here its supply and demand. Too much supply and demand shrinks but cut supply and demand goes through the roof.

  • Comment number 78.

    re 62

    My point exactly ..Wigan came into the old 4th division a couple of years after Wimbledon and made good.. I hope they survive in the Prem, not because I am a particular fan of their brand of footie, but because the ELP needs teams like Wigan. It would be great to see a few more of the smaller clubs making it ..not much money but a PASSION ..something that seems sadly lacking from the more established long term residents of the ELP.
    It is easy to suppiort winners but to turn up week in week out to support your local club win or lose shows commitment

  • Comment number 79.

    Very interesting debate.

    There are obviously many reasons why some of the attendances are disappointing. I sympathise with Wigan fans as being drawn against a team from your own division, no disrespect to Hull, isn't very exciting unless it's one of the "Big 4". I support Sheff Utd and I think we've been drawn against same division teams for about last 4 or 5 seasons (sure someone will put me right about that) and Wednesday have suffered the same. The weather, money and a clubs attitude play a part too.

    I do like the idea put forward by Wednesdaymorgs about FA Cup Winners taking the 4th CL spot, how are you a champion by finishing 4th?, whereas if you've won the FA Cup at least you've won something to get there. I take the point about only 1 winner outside of the top four recently, but the decision could alter clubs attitudes to the FA Cup which can only be a good thing.

    One other point to mention - Fergie put out an almost full strength side against Leeds, despite the forthcoming semi-final against City - and they still lost!

  • Comment number 80.

    I was one of the 5,335 who attended the Latics v Hull game on Saturday & don't blame anyone who did not attend this game or any other cup game that was held for that matter.
    Latics have quite a romantic relationship with the cup going back to our non-league days (we still hold the record victory for a non-league side over a league side - 6-1 v carlisle & our record attendance is for an FA cup tie against Hereford United who were themselves also a non-league side at the time & I think we're 3rd in the number of victories for a non-league side over league sides behind Yeovil & Altrincham who have spent far longer as non-league sides than Latics)
    in the build up to Saturday's game the managers of both sides were very open in stating that the cup was not their priority and that they would be making significant changes to their sides. If the managers are openly stating the game is not a priroty for them then why should the supporters of either club treat spending £15 of their hard earned cash as a priority when they've both got to find significant further sums of money to fund premier league games in the coming months?
    If clubs and managers start to pick their strongest sides in the cup games then the attendances will increase

  • Comment number 81.

    I believe the FA Cup still has it's magic!

    But yes it has taken a few knocks in recent years with it's appeal.

    But don't forget this season we are seing more matches on T.V. so more people are inclined to stay @ home and watch the games.

    It is obvious what the main reason is for not going, ??? FINANCES ???

    Who after 2009's recession can afford to stump up £15/£20 to watch an unattractive fixture, especially in the first weekend of the new year!!

    FA Cup 3rd round weekend used to be mid-to end of Jan not so long ago but in recent years has been brought forward.

    It is definateley the money aspect that comes in to play here, ??did someone say it was £20 to watch Bradford V Cheltenham sat?? thats alot of money for a div 2 fixture!!

    PS. Shearer for SWFC, No thanks, we wanna stay up this year.

    Megson please Santa if you're still hanging around??


  • Comment number 82.


    I am a bit surprised, but on the other hand, I didn't expect the ground to be full every game. As some of my Wigan mates say, you pick a team when you are a kid....I picked (or was made to pick) Wigan. A lot of my mates picked Man U and Liverpool and support them from their armchairs....

    We have gone from 1,400 fans watching Wigan v Bury to an average of under 20,000 fans v's teams like Blackburn in just over 10 years. My two lads have just started watching the Latics with their mates but I can guarantee if Wigan wasn't in the Prem, they would be asking for Man U and Liverpool shirts.

    Our history is in the making and I hope that we do come to fill our ground regularly, but to have similar attendances with the likes of Notlob and Blackburn for a club with 80+ years to the junior is quite amazing.

  • Comment number 83.

    @deano 83

    I disagree the FA cup 3rd round proper was played mid to late Jan. It is always the first weekend of the new year. This year it just so happens the new year fell on a Friday and it seems sooner.

  • Comment number 84.

    #76 I read that about the minimum charge of £15 in today's Daily Mirror. Another great idea from the FA!!!

    It also mentioned the minimum of £5 for concessions. (Both of these minimums are for 3rd round and onwards)

    So if for example Wigan had wanted to do a 'Kids for a quid' scheme the FA would not have let them? Can this really be true?

  • Comment number 85.

    Andie99uk, apologies for my misreading. I understand what you're saying but I just feel the Premier League isn't what it's cracked up to be. I enjoyed going to matches much more when we were in the lower leagues. It seemed to mean so much more to the fans in the lower leagues than it does now.

    Half the fans that go to our games now go to see Torres, Gerrard and Rooney etc. I understand that it's nice to see these players. I like to see these players but at the end of the day, when I go to games I go to see those in black and amber. Unfortunately not enough of our fans do these days.

    I'm also sick to death of no silverware we don't care chant...

  • Comment number 86.

    Not many Bradford fans paid on the day, the attendance was high because of their season ticket policy, which makes season ticket prices very low.
    In regard to the Wigan game, Wigan are not really a premiership sized club, which is why some of their premiership crowds have been so low, they also suffer from the vast number of other Lancashire clubs in the region.
    I went to the Stoke-York game and travelled from Chesterfield, and the journey was bad. Had to travel through snow and a journey that should have taken just over a hour took two. It was even worse for the fans travelling down from York who had to go across the M62. Despite the weather we took 4000 fans. The number of Stoke fans attending was disappointing, but then there is a recession, and I expect they realised they were likely to win, and potentially have another cup match to pay for. At the end of the day people have limited money.

  • Comment number 87.

    There are many problems or issues here, many of which are unrelated to each other, but when put together mean low attendances for some of the weekend's matches. Also, several of the above posts raise further questions than the one originally posed. Are so many of us now really living so far away from the places we were born? Or do football clubs these days attract so many fans from not just outside the 'catchment' area of their club's town/city, or even the nearest 'big' club, but from London to Bristol or even Manchester to London, to pick out to examples? This could at least provide an insight into why some home attendances were lower than at other matchdays when considering the travel conditions.

    However, the real reasons are many. And there are many reasons which when all added together mean low attendances, for some of the weekend's matches at least. A big factor has got to be the fall of the calendar this year. New Year's Day is usually a big football day with a full fixture list for the league. The 3rd round of the FA cup would usually take place the following Saturday. Obviously with New Year's Day falling on a Friday this year then the FA cup was scheduled for the Saturday the 2nd. This is significant for a couple of reasons, one being that it creates an extra cost to the fan on a day still within the Christmas period and at a point when most people are fully spent up. If it had been a league fixture then a significant amount of tickets would consist of already purchased season tickets which would keep attendances up. A little matter of an extra week after Christmas can make all the difference to people's finances, even if only psychologically.

    The second factor undoubtedly has to be the weather. Since the weather has been dodgy for a while now, and not just a sudden turn to severe conditions, people who may have bought tickets closer to the day of the game surely could have decided it wasn't worth travelling and therefore didn't buy tickets. Again, if a league game, attendances would have been buoyed by pre-bought season ticket holders who may have felt more obliged to attend rather than waste their ticket. Also, I'm sure if last weekend had been a league fixture weekend then attendances would surely have been hit by the weather also. Even if the weather is as bad for the fourth round I would be surprised if attendances are as low.

    Also, some teams simply do not have as many fans as other teams. Just because a team is in the Premier League doesn't automatically mean that fans just magically appear. Wigan may have had a lower attendance than they would do in the league, but its not like they regularly have 40 000 plus attendances, far from it. The fact is they are from a town bang in the middle of the key catchment areas of the likes of Liverpool, Everton, Manchester Utd and Manchester City. These teams have had a massive fanbase for 50 years now. Wigan are still relatively new to the top division and it really isn't all that long since they were in the 3rd tier of English football. Whether in time they will achieve anything like the fanbase of the clubs mentioned may be debatable, it's certainly not surprising they are someway behind at present.

    As for the FA cup itself, there is no doubt that it's attraction has waned for many clubs. Of course this has to be financially related, and is mainly due to the success of the Premier League, sorry, the FA Premier League. The FA has created the most watched, commercially successful league in the world, and partly to the detriment of the world's oldest and most famous club cup competition. Even if the European competitions didn't exist then the Premier League, and its financial rewards, would still far outweigh those of the FA cup. Add in the European competitions and the FA cup becomes a poor third.

    As for the suggestion of moving the fourth place Champions League qualification spot to the winners of the FA Cup, not a chance. There is no way the FA would risk the chance of a Championship team, or even any team outside the current top seven of the Premier League, qualifying for the Champions League, not making it past the qualifying round and then having a place removed by UEFA.

    Finally, as a competition, it has to be said that Manchester United not being in the FA cup for the fourth round is possibly the single worst thing the FA could have wanted. Which may or may not be why 5 minutes of injury time were dreamed up out of nowhere. The West Ham v Arsenal 5 minutes may or may not have been a smokescreen...

  • Comment number 88.

    #67 nickc

    I'm assuming you are just having a laugh with your comments? They made me laugh anyway. The FA Cup runners up are given a Europa League place if the winners have already qualified for either the Champions League or Europa League

  • Comment number 89.

    #73 fragglerock

    There is already a cup competition in England that uses a seeded system, it's called the Carling Cup. The FA Cup being an open competition ads to the excitement. If top premier league sides are drawn together in 3rd or 4th rounds that opens up the competition to smaller teams. Maybe you prefer to have a Man Utd v Chelsea final every year?

  • Comment number 90.


    FA Cup 3rd round weekend used to be mid-to end of Jan not so long ago but in recent years has been brought forward.

    The 3rd round has always been held on the first Saturday of January, since after second world war anyway, except in 2000 when the FA though it a good idea to bring it forward to mid December and turned out to be a scheduling disaster

  • Comment number 91.

    As a kid the FA Cup was something everyone looked forward to from the start of the season. Its a shame that managers and fans tend to treat in the same regard as the Carling Cup nowadays with low turn-outs, second string sides etc. The truth is to most teams, league position and the riches or pitfalls that come with promotion/relegation, Champions League qualification etc far exceed what the FA Cup can offer.

    The United game yesterday, don't get me wrong I was gutted to have to watch the Leeds fans singing and dancing at the final whistle but as for exiting the tournament, I don't really mind at all. In fact it now gives us a free weekend to prepare to the Champions League which could be a godsend given the injuries we still have.

  • Comment number 92.

    Cyril, I am assuming like me, you were also to be found at Boothferry Park along with many other die hard fans.
    Unfortunately, I now survive in Leeds (you cant call it living...)and am unable to get to every match.
    I do agree that we have a lot of plastic fans who came out of the woodwork after we got to Wembley.
    in my heart of hearts, I would love to see the FA cup at the KC, but we need to become a bigger club first and consolidate.

  • Comment number 93.

    We are not a big enough club to go out and win the FA Cup, I understand that. It's just I think we should have taken it a bit more seriously this year, instead of sacking it off for the Premier League.

    Financially we're in a real pickle, surely money from FA Cup progression would help that. Consolidation in the Premier League is a main target of the club i'm sure, and I understand the financial gain from staying in the Premier League.

    Just I think we've disregarded the FA Cup unnecessarily. I know players can get injured, but if they're going to get injured then so be it, there's as much chance someone would get injured against Wigan as they do against Chelsea next Saturday. With the same outcome and effect on our season.

  • Comment number 94.

    As a Man Utd fan and as a Torquay United follower (My local team, jokes on a post card to.........) not only was I gutted to be knocked out the F.A. cup, especially to a Leeds team that deserved the win, I was gutted to read that it will be 7 years since United won it, beating Millwall in the final in 2004!!

    As for the big teams not wanting it, you just have to look at Sir Alex "hairdryer" Ferguson and his responses in the interviews, to what he thinks. Yes it was a weakened team, but not by much. First choice keeper availible and top 2 that are world class. Even the midfield are premiership fringe players that just didn't perform.

    In my personal opinion whats the point of winning the European Cup when you can't win the F.A cup, the cup with the best history than any other in the world......Again in my opinion.

  • Comment number 95.

    Regional? This may bring about derbies and make it more likely for people to travel. just a thought

    I love the FA Cup supporting AFC Wimbledon we took 3200 to Millwall on a Monday night although we lost it was a great atmosphere.

  • Comment number 96.

    It's all about the money and marketing. Premier League is sold round the world, it's a product. The football clubs are now a business, it's about revenue and merchandising.

    There is also a malaise in society..."No chance of winning then no point"...

    Football fans booing their team for losing a match despite the team being top of the league...

    I love my club and I always will. I want them to beat the big teams. I want them to have a crack at any competition they are in. That's why the FA Cup was magic. You'd hear old fans talking about when their team scored against Man Utd and enjoying that memory despite the loss of the match. Old players tell their grand-kids "I scored against Chelsea" and it's a big deal 40 years on...THIS is why the FA Cup is magic.

    However, remove any emotion, turn it all in to a business deal and you remove the heart of football.

  • Comment number 97.

    I haven't entirely read the thread but would wholeheartedly agree with the idea regionalising the 3rd round of the cup. Considering this, as appetising as putting all the london clubs in one pot, NW in another etc. might be, it wouldn't be practical. So a Northern and Southern draw???

    It is important that something is done. You don't get the same experience in an empty stadium regardless of the quality of football and the more gates decline, the more the problem will perpetuate itself until some clubs will operate at a loss for FA cup games

  • Comment number 98.

    I'm a Wigan fan and season ticket holder and i've seen a fair few comments like this about Wigan.

    Wigan for me are quite a strange team when compared to most of the other Premiership clubs. During the football boom of the 90's when football really became what it is today Wigan were in the lowest two league divisions with attendences which were around 3000-5000. We made our dramatic ascent to the premiership and have averaged around 19,000 supporters each season. Now when you look at the size of Wigan which is around 80,000 people with 120,000 in Wigan borough it's a pretty impressive statistic. Bolton's ground which lies on the Wigan/Bolton border attracts a few thousand more each season from a place which is approximately twice the size of Wigan.

    Obviously there is the Rugby factor which is often mentioned. Wigan Rugby's average attendence is lower than WAFC's but our away gate is significantly bigger than theirs meaning that we pretty much have an identical fanbase give or take a thousand or so. I don't know the actual figures but I feel that there are a number of people who enjoy both sports.

    There is also the case of Club History. We're very proud of our history but the fact remains we were a non-league club until 1978 and truth be told most of the football supporting nation supports clubs which have had a period of success in the past. The likes of Liverpool, Burnley, Preston, Man Utd, Man City, Bolton, Everton all had significant success before we even got into the league. It also means that the clubs which Wigan fans really look forward to playing, our rivals are often in lower divisions.

    Finally if we look at the game itself. Wigan rested 4 first team players and Chris Kirkland's Injury forced us to replace him with Mike Pollitt although i would've expected that change anyway. While top clubs have talented youngsters (Wigan is one of the few clubs in the top two divisions not to have an Academy) or international reserve players we do not and you'd be hard pressed to make many further changes to the squad without resigning to defeat (Edman's one game in the past couple of years was a 9-1 defeat, Kapo and De Ridder look to be on their way out and Rachid Bouaouzan was a signing on deadline day 2007 who has yet to start a single game, the rest are youth players who in all honesty probably won't make it at this level or the championship for that matter going of recent examples like Lewis Montrose). Our squad is tiny because we have small support and do not spend to far beyond our means. A season ticket at Wigan costs 250 quid so even if we had 25000 every game of the season we'd still have a comparitively tiny turnover. Furthermore we recently had a game cancelled due to the horrendous icy conditions around teh stadium which doesn't seem to have improved a great deal.

    In conclusion 5335 fans was a low attendence but it seems like other supporters are being shocked for us.

    PS I look forward to the next round where we have either Sven's Notts County or Forrest Green away. It's about 50x more appealing than the game which has caused such an uproar.

  • Comment number 99.

    In my personal opinion whats the point of winning the European Cup when you can't win the F.A cup, the cup with the best history than any other in the world......Again in my opinion.


    I think the European Cup has as much history as the FA Cup. Winning the European Cup used to be the absolute pinnacle of club football since you had to win your own domestic league to qualify. This has been watered down slightly by three or even four teams from certain countries being allowed in but is still the biggest cup competition around. The FA Cup has been firmly pushed into the background by any teams harbouring ambitions of Champions League qualification or teams battling relegation, it simply does have have the relevance it once did which is sad but reflects modern day football. Ask any fan (of a team in with a shout anyway) what they'd rather have this season, an FA Cup final appearance or 4th in the Premier League and the answer would be fairly unanimous. Any competition suffers when the big boys treat it as an afterthought, which is happening more an more domestically.

  • Comment number 100.

    @DWLW post 30.

    In direct response to your comment. I was in the North Stand at Stamford Bridge yesterday and was one of the supporters whom stayed until the end and clapped the team off the field.

    I was fortunate to go to the game with my brother whom said goodbye to me 10 minutes before kick as he was a Watford Fan in the Shed End.

    He too made the same comments to me after we met again post game. He also made partiuclar comment to me about various Watford fans who left the game after 30 minutes of play as their team succumbed to the pressure, I find this awful.
    I cannot believe any football fan would dream of doing this, only the fans whom as a child took themselves and their football off the school field when they started losing would leave a stadium after 30 minutes of play.

    I think the atmosphere would have been somewhat more electric if there had been something to play for, it was a foregone conclusion after 15 minutes and Watford are not exactly Chelsea's arch rivals. Besides that Watford were not full of song, and considering the Hornets allocation was 3 times the normal amount for away fans I was disapointed. I put the atmosphere entirely down to how the game panned out. If it had been 1-0 at half time or 0-0 it would have been the recipe for a good atmosphere.

    With Chelsea, please bare in mind that access to and from Stamford Bridge is a bottleneck, most fans travel by tube and those that don't face traffic jams to get out of London, Vicarage Road is somewhat easier to exit from. When the team is 5 nil up and no chance of a come back, I don't blame people that come every week for wanting a head start on the wait.


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