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Would a revamp revive the FA Cup - or ruin it?

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Chris Bevan | 09:00 UK time, Friday, 11 March 2011

Ahead of a quarter-final weekend that appears likely to be dominated by talk of teams with other priorities fielding weakened line-ups, it is timely to tackle what is becoming a familiar question - how to arrest the seemingly inevitable decline of the FA Cup?

The Football Association has been discussing it for a while now, ever since former chief executive Ian Watmore unveiled some radical plans to revamp the tournament at the start of 2010 in fact, but little has changed yet.

On paper, the FA's task looks difficult. How do they reinvigorate a competition currently trading largely on nostalgia and attract a younger audience, without upsetting traditionalists who want to protect the 139 years of history on which its famous folklore has been built?

By doing so, can they keep the big fish at the top (and bottom) of the Premier League happy as well as the minnows looking to write their own Cup fairytales and stay afloat by cashing in? And where do their commercial partners, who sponsor and broadcast the tournament, fit into the decision-making process... not to mention you lot - the punters who pay to go and watch the games?

Chelsea's players get their hands on the FA Cup trophy at Wembley last year.

Chelsea's players get their hands on the FA Cup trophy at Wembley last year. Photo: Getty.

In reality it is an even tougher problem to solve. For a start, not everyone at the FA, let alone elsewhere within the game or the general public, has an appetite for the innovations being considered.

The most drastic of these appear to be the introduction of seedings and the abolition of replays. The latter would seemingly appeal to the big-boys looking to avoid fixture congestion, but definitely not help the smaller clubs who would miss out on much-needed extra revenue.

Take Leyton Orient for example, a club who had already done well out of the Cup this season even before their home fifth-round tie against Arsenal kicked off, with the TV money from their game with the Gunners taking the total their run had generated to about £800,000 - enough to see them break even for this year.

Their Cup story did not finish there, though. Jonathan Tehoue's last-gasp equaliser earned the O's an unlikely replay at the Emirates, a just reward for a battling performance by their players. I was at Brisbane Road and, however dramatic extra-time and penalties might have been, I would have left feeling slightly cheated if the League One side had been eliminated in that manner.

In my eyes, Arsenal had to play the extra game because they did not get the job done at the first time of asking. Even Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said Orient deserved a second chance.

They got it - meaning a rare outing on a Premier League pitch for their players, a great night out for their fans (despite a heavy defeat) and around £750,000 extra cash in the coffers, enough to tide the club over for 2012 too. As far as I am concerned, that outweighs the inconvenience of an extra game to a Premier League club.

Orient's chief executive Matt Porter, who has to balance the books for the League One side, told me: "This season we have had first-hand experience of some of the things that are being talked about by the FA - and getting rid of replays is not something we would agree with, for obvious reasons. In fact, we wouldn't agree with it regardless of what has happened to us this year."

Maybe seedings are seen as a way of softening the financial blow for smaller teams if replays are abolished, by increasing the chances of them meeting a big club in the third round, and supposedly throwing up more giant-killing opportunities too. But I can't help thinking that by trying to manufacture Cup magic, the FA would only end up diluting it.

After all, another key ingredient of the Cup is romance, and a kind draw currently allows a plucky underdog (I would use Crawley as an example here, were they not so unpopular with the masses) to progress deep into the competition. Not only that, but the tie of this year's third round was Manchester United's win over Liverpool, featuring the return of King Kenny.

Seedings would reduce the chance of the former and deny us any repeat of the latter. Will that really help the Cup's profile? From a financial point of view, Porter can at least understand an argument for bringing them in, though, but still feels they would "go against the spirit of the competition".

Empty seats at this season's third round tie between Reading and West Brom

Empty seats at this season's third round tie between Reading and West Brom. Photo: Getty.

Surely that is exactly what the FA should be looking to protect and, if possible, enhance. And some of their other suggestions do make sense.

As long as third-round weekend is recognised to be an integral part of our football calendar and kept sacrosanct, then switching subsequent rounds to midweek would not do any harm, and possibly do some good if designated space can be found in an already crowded calendar. Similarly, talk of moving the final from 3.00pm to a Saturday evening kick-off would probably not bother fans as much as it might have done 20 years ago - everyone is used to games starting at all times these days anyway.

The FA has already begun efforts to drum up more youthful interest - for example by getting Noel Gallagher and Kasabian guitarist Serge Pizzorno to make the draw for round three, taking the trophy to Afghanistan or introducing a trophy for giant-killing feats, but obviously more needs to be done to bring back the crowds.

It strikes me that the only way to get top-flight fans interested in the Cup again is to make it matter to managers too. Giving the winners a Champions League place is the only way to do so, although it is unlikely to happen.

Uefa president Michel Platini is keen, and you would think three-quarters of English top-flight clubs would be too, but the idea got short thrift from the Premier League and other major European leagues when he floated it in 2008. Only awarding the Cup an additional place would change that situation, but it is not something that is being seriously considered this time.

It's a shame. I remember speaking to Stoke boss Tony Pulis about the Cup last season - when their top-flight status was looking a good-deal more secure - and he made it clear that points, rather than prizes, took precedence.

Even though they have not been in a Cup semi-final since 1972, many Potters fans will doubtless feel the same about Sunday's last-eight tie with the Hammers, especially as they are now only three points clear of the drop zone in the league.

Whatever the FA decide, this is a crucial time for the Cup, with talks ongoing with new sponsors to replace the deal with E. ON that ends this year and the agreement with main broadcaster ITV expiring in 2012 (although secondary rights holder ESPN have a deal lasting until 2014).

Any alterations to the format will have to wait until the start of the 2012/13 season because it is too late to implement them for the next campaign.

But, whether the world's oldest knockout competition is overhauled or merely tweaked, some changes seem inevitable and yes, they must be made to keep the Cup relevant. At the moment, there are too many second-string sides and empty seats.

You can follow me throughout the season on Twitter @chrisbevan_bbc


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  • Comment number 1.

    i like fergie's idea (funnily enough!!) of having a winter break of 2 weeks and returning in mid-late january with the 3rd round of the cup. would get everyone excited.

    (also does anyone else think we only ever complain about losing 'the magic of the cup' when it's on itv?)

  • Comment number 2.

    Just another example of tradition being destroyed in football. What was wrong with European games on Tuesday and Wednesday night. None of this group rubbish. Just have a knock out competition. It always worked and then we could have a proper League and FA Cup. Money is certainly the root of what is wrong with the game.

  • Comment number 3.

    Re Kaufman39. ITV, well, yes they don't exactly do it justice do they. Their sports coverage is still shocking

  • Comment number 4.

    I think the best idea would be to allocate the 4th champions league spot to the winners of the FA Cup instead of the 4th place team in the league . The FA Cup winners would be alot more deserving of the place than a team which in all probability finishes 15-20 points behind the league winners

  • Comment number 5.

    You want to make it magical, how about seeding the lesser teams instead of the better ones , that way they would all get a crack at a big crowd, maybe a replay and then everyone would be happy and everyone would make money. If you seed the better teams, all we stop is Man Utd vs Spurs early on.

  • Comment number 6.

    Leave the Cup well alone.

    Fixture congestion is only a problem if you're in Europe in which case you're being well rewarded for the 'inconvenience' of a cup run, replays and all. Crowds are bound to be lower for early, uninspiring Cup matches, especially in times when money is tight so that shouldn't cause undue concern. The Cup's not as broke as people seem to think it is, don't do further damage by playing around with the format all over the place in trying to 'fix it'. For many of us smaller clubs it's both a) a welcome diversion, b) a financial lifeline and c) a pure, footballing joy at times.

    Premier League managers who'd rather finish 10th in the Prem then win the Cup is utterly ridiculous to my mind. I reckon most Birmingham fans will remember winning even the Carling Cup this season longer than they will remember finishing mid-table last year. Points not prizes is all about money, not about the game and not about what the fans want either.

    The Champs League idea is a great one by the way, crying shame that the Premier League is so greedy it'll never happen.

  • Comment number 7.

    Seedings: no.
    Removal of replays: no.
    Semi-finals: Out of Wembley and back to neutral grounds.
    Final replays: yes, bring it back.
    Mid-week matches: when they did the QFs on four nights a few years back it was a farce, so no, except for replays.

    Fines for weakened teams: yes. Treat the cup with contempt and you should be punished.

    A revamp would ruin it and make it as much of a joke as the League Cup.

  • Comment number 8.

    There are a few factors i consider which has caused the decline in the romance of the fa cup.
    1 having semi finals at wembley
    2. no fa cup semi -final and final replays
    3. the Fa themselves for being greedy
    4. No fa cup songs!! The 70's and 80's were the pinnacle years of the fa cup. The songs made it all the more special.
    5. Only having 1 replay in the earlier rounds.

  • Comment number 9.

    Strange, was having a conversation about this just yesterday.

    Winners of the FA Cup should get a champions league place (the equivalent of 4th place) unless they've already qualified, and then it goes to the league. This would have the benefit of teams taking the FA Cup more seriously, possibly making the league more competitive (say a wigan, stoke, birmingham, etc. win the FA Cup, and then get a crack at the champions league, the money they bring in could really help them push on to the next level).

    This also takes away the stupid "Race for 4th" where teams seem content just to finish 4th rather than push on to the next level.

    Similarly, with the league cup, give the winners of this a first round Europa League place, not just a qualifying round place.

    Not too fussed on the idea of midweek games, as you mentioned, people are used to it now.

    I was all for the scrapping of replays before I read this article, and now realise that it can be a really good thing for lower league clubs. Just heard a friend suggest that a possible idea could be a "ground swap" rather than replays, say a lower league club draws a prem club at home, they have the option to switch grounds to play at the bigger ground. It's a win win situation, both clubs are likely to receive more money.

  • Comment number 10.

    For me the FA cup was all about the underdogs, the chance of some lowly non-league outfit grinding their way through countless qualifiers in hope of drawing an established premier league club.
    My small town of Barrow achieved this 2 seasons on the trot recently, drawing away trips to Middlesborough and Sunderland in consecutive 3rd Rounds of the cup.
    However, this achievement was glossed over with little more than a 30 second highlight reel on the 3rd round highlight show on TV.
    I'm sure Barrow are'nt the only non-league team to gain little or no recognition for thier achievements in the cup so why cant more emphasis be placed on these rare occasions.
    When we played boro in the 3rd round, I think United drew Villa and this was shown on TV, obviously United- Villa will pull in more viewers than Sunderland - Barrow, but we see fixtures like United - Villa every weekend on Sky....why not give the non-league clubs thier day in the Sun and stick them on TV. If there was ever a competition that was not based purely around ratings and profit surely it's the FA cup.

  • Comment number 11.

    How about getting the Scottish teams involved. This may upset traditionalists but Welsh teams have been in the Cup for years. Cardiff were in the final 3 years ago and the final's been played in Cardiff for 7 years so I dont see the problem in letting Scottish teams play. Celtic and Rangers in the Cup, now I would watch that.

  • Comment number 12.

    the fa cup is fine as it is . the earlier rounds in midweek?? stupid idea . final kick off later?? it is fine as it is . so please FA dont change a thing

  • Comment number 13.

    Re Simon Lewis- I yearn for the "old days " and the straight knockout formula of the European ties - two games - you either beat your opponents or youm are right - none of this "a point is good away from home" rubbish, or the ludicrous situation where, if you come third in your group stage of the Champions League then you are rewarded by entry into ANOTHER competition!
    Re Kaufman39 - All of ITV's sports coverage is poor - Champions League/FA Cup/Formula One although it is almost Byron-esque compared to what I had to sit through last night watching Braga-Liverpool on 5.
    I had to check twice that it wasn't just a one off game, the way the commentator was talking was as though Liverpool hadnt scored in the remaining minutes then they were out!

  • Comment number 14.

    As soon as the English FA Cup is mentioned is it obligatory that the phrase 'world's oldest knockout competition' is tagged on ?

  • Comment number 15.

    Keep it the way it is!

    Just please can we get the coverage OFF ITV?! It does not do the competition justice and I for one think that if the BBC want to inspire people through the FA Cup then they need to buy back the rights to it and broadcast it in a way that is more appealing to everyone.

  • Comment number 16.

    Perhaps one way would be for media outlets to cease continually telling us that the FA Cup is in decline. The reason seats are empty is due to the ridiculous prices for even the "smallest" of games and not because it is the FA Cup.

  • Comment number 17.

    I like the idea of giving the winner a Champions League place. In the past I have loved the FA Cup, partly because it's one of the few matches I can watch a year, not paying for Sky. But this season I have started to become a bit frustrated with it. Chelsea aren't even playing this weekend which is a massive disappointment due to it, and it seems to be a bit of a waste of time.

  • Comment number 18.

    The FA Cup is finished for any number of reasons

    1. The top 4 clubs only bother taking it seriously once they are out of the chgampions league
    2. the next three or four clubs are so desperate to get into the top 4 the cup is very much a hinderance for them
    3 the bottom 6 or 8 are only interested in staying in the premier league so they arent bothered either
    which leaves 3 or 4 in the middle of the table who by and large give it a proper go but by and large they still arent good enough to win it
    exactly the same goes for the championship-the top 8 or 10s only ambition is getting into the premier league and the cup is very much an unwelcome distraction.
    yes the romance is still there for the teams lower down the league pyramid but thats not enough to keep the cup going
    finally the FA selling the rights to ITV & Setanta in 2007 did further lot of damage following the BBCs marketing of the cup over the previous 6 seasons and the Corporations attempt to bring the cup back ino focus following the previous disasterous coverage on ITV between 98-01

  • Comment number 19.

    Agree with the majority here.

    I am sick of the FA pandering to the 'big clubs', and even more using 'fixture congestions' as a cover for not playing fixtures the clubs can't be bothered with.

    We are in an age when players NEVER play more than 30 odd games a season in total because squad sizes are so big and rotation is the norm. Yet we forever hear the 'big clubs' bleating about 'tired players'.

    These players are of course playing on surfaces players of old could only dream about, and are playing less league, cup and due to rotation less games full stop than ever before!

    So, let's leave that excuse to one side.

    Agree totally that ITV's coverage is dismal. It's tacky, trite and just plain poorly presented.

    On the other hand the attendances speak for themselves. The younger generation of fans is just not that wowed by the cup. They have been brought up on non stop EPL spin, where the only, and dismally negative goal of the 'middle clubs', is to get up and stay up in the EPL. Oh wow!

    At the same time, since the FA won their century long battle with the Football league to regain the big clubs under their exclusive umbrella, they have lost interest in the cup. Remember the amount of effort the FA put into promoting the cup of old? My, and older generations of fans can. Now it's a side issue to the money spinning tack machine that is the EPL.........

    Sadly, without the backing of the big clubs, without the FA's interest being rekindled nothing will halt the cups decline.

    For me, I'd rather it went out with dignity in it's current form than be trivialised further by messing about with it's structure in what are purely, self serving, negative changes, being suggested here.

  • Comment number 20.

    you only have to look at this weekend to see what is wrong.
    There are NO quarter finals kicking off at 3pm on Saturday. Ridiculous. Also there are no premier league games scheduled but yet there are on Cup Final day itself!!! Even more ridiculous.

    the last FA Cup weekend was a farce too. On the Sunday you had a 4th round replay, the QF draw followed by a 5th round game. How can you make sense of what is going on???

    So therefore make the following amendments
    1) make sure all games are on Saturday or Sunday and any replays are played in the week.
    2) make the FA Cup draw on a Monday - when it becomes more of an event
    3) get rid of Wembley semi finals
    4) keep the 3pm slot at Wembley - move it and you destroy the whole essence of Cup final day and ultimately the competition. Cup final day as it stands is just about the only traditional thing left about the competition. Can this also be the LAST game of the domestic season. To have it played when there is still a round of premier league gmes to go is stupid

  • Comment number 21.

    Football costs far too much these days and one reasons many seats are left empty is people cannot afford the extra cost of cup games on top of what they spend on league games.

    The obvious solution would be to price cup games low to let regular fans afford it more easily or thsoe who cannot normally afford to go to be able to do so. Sadly, the bean counters at some clubs are too dim to get this.

  • Comment number 22.

    I will sound defeatist but I can't see how the FA cup can ever get back to its importance pre 1992. The 1991 Cup final was the end of the era, when the winners (Spurs) and story (Clough never winning it, Gazza wrecking his knee) was bigger than who won the title that year (Arsenal with a brillant defence).

    Has anyone read ' Why England lose at Football' ? It has a chapter on the FA cup. Bascially up to the early 1990's, equivalent cup games than to its league match, always had a bigger gate- around 30 % extra. Nowadays, it will be about 60-80% of the gate. The combination of the TV saturated Premier League and season tickets have ruined the cup. People who have season tickets are just not willing to pay for a extra games unless its near the final (5/6th round) or a interesting (away jolly/ lower league team coming) match.

    Staying the EPL is worth so much more in cash than the cup, only the top teams bother. I support Villa and am still upset over what happened at Man City. We could have been playing reading at home for a place in the semi finals for the 2nd season running, but Houllier had other ideas.

    The league cup has managed to chance itself to keep relevant. Its midweek, has no replays, finishes early in the season, and has less historic backage to play around with. I just can't see how anything can save the FA cup apart from a fundamental change in football economics and habits.

    I would still like to have the semis back at Villa Park though......

  • Comment number 23.

    How about a half-way stage with scrapping replays? If they must be scrapped, scrap them for matches between clubs in the same division, so they get to play their match to a conclusion at the first time of asking. But keep them for matches between clubs from different levels.

    It's these "just another match against a team we play twice already" which really fail to capture the imagination - as shown by lower crowds for cup rather than league matches, at all levels, and even in the early rounds.

    I'm sure they could be lost without too much regret by anyone - but it's the Exeter v. Man Utd and the Orient v. Arsenal type of matches that are sacred and make the cup what it is - and it'd be criminal to lose these replays or the chance for smaller clubs to fight to achieve them.

  • Comment number 24.

    I've been saying for a couple of years now that the winners of the League and especially the F.A cup should go into the champions league, as they are actually the winners of a competition.

    Why should 4th place in the premier league be rewarded with a champions league spot when a cup winner doesn't!? It makes no sense.

    If they were to change it, I'm sure the 'big' teams would take it as seriously as the lower division teams. Sadly it seems money has destroyed the magic of the cup!

    I'd go for
    Premier Division 1st place, League Cup Winner, F.A Cup winner in the champions league.
    Premier Division 2nd place to go into the Champions League qualifier.

    Then I think 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th (Not sure if thats the right amount) will go into the uefa cup, as we all agree, nobody does care about with it being on channel 5!

  • Comment number 25.

    Why not ask Uefa if we can sacrifice the 4th Champions League place for the FA cup Winner. If the winner is already in the top three, revert the 4th spot back to a Champions League place.

    Imagine how badly teams will want to progress in the cup if they knew they could get into the Champions League! I'm a Liverpool fan and if we were still in the cup now, I can guarantee we would be placing a very high emphasis on trying to win it, as would Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham!

  • Comment number 26.

    Should read, winners of the league cup and especially the F.A cup.

    Also, keep the ties to a weekend! So it has a priority over all league games and stands out that little bit more!

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm with no. 11 here, get the Scottish teams in, maybe even expand it to a 'British Cup'. Doesn't exactly fit in with the traditions of the cup but it would gaurantee to get fans interested. Rangers v Newcastle, Celtic v Everton, even Hearts v Wigan and Dundee Utd against West Brom would be pretty exciting to watch.

    Add in the national pride and each of the teams and players would be well up for it. I'm sure even Tony Pullis at Stoke would get satisfaction from beating a Hibs or Inverness Calley Thistle.

  • Comment number 28.

    For me, I'd like to see all professional clubs brought in at the first round. Massively increases the chances of small teams pulling a big club out the hat, and rights what is, for me, the situation where the likely cup winner hasn't been in the contest from the start proper.

    This obviously adds another couple of games to many of the top club's calendars. Perhaps do away with the widely despised League Cup to allow for this?

    Champions League spot for the winner would be fantastic, and arguably far more deserved than finishing 4th in the Prem. In most seasons, the team finishing 4th is closer on points to the club in 20th than 1st!

  • Comment number 29.

    Sadly the most naive canard is repeated the somehow a fair few hundred grand from a cup run does much other than alter a few numbers. In fact if they buy players as a result it probably costs more.

    The fact is most clubs are owned by people who extract the money. They develop the ground and get their cut. It would make no sense for a club owner to leave money in the club it's not how small business works. You're the kind of person who owns a club you gonna let it pay debt or have money in the bank or spend it in a way that benefits you? Simples.

    The best thing that can happen in football is better accounting rules and an end to transfers. Trying to revamp nostalgia is silly. Indeed the magic of the cup was that on some swamp somewhere between 3 and 5 occasionally someone would go out. Playing the games live on TV spread over a weekend ranting about upsets and shocks before and after is hardly magical.

    The players who scored the goals that took out big clubs become mini legends now I could not name anyone since Roy Kabina Gina Essandoh and I had to look up that spelling.

  • Comment number 30.

    The magic of the cup was essentially lost when the old Wembley was torn down. When the stadium looks like most others on TV with fans close to the pitch it doesn't have quite the same impact. For all the problems with the old Wembley it had history and scale on its side and it was a dream for any player to play there - the new stadium can't do that, not in 4 years anyway.

    The only obvious way to rekindle interest is to offer a Champions' League place for the winners which would at least make sense of the 'Champions' banner that coming fourth simply cannot do.

    I don't like the idea of seedings but I do think that guarnteeing lower ranked teams a home draw from the fourth round onwards would create interest because it would then at least make a tie more of a contest. So many games this season would've been far more attractive if the venues for the games were reversed.

    Thinking of a couple off the top of my head would be Ipswich at home to Chelsea. That would probably still be an away win still but far more likely to be tight game than it ultimately was at Stamford Bridge (7-0). Brighton at home to Stoke is another. Hardly a glamour tie but it would generate more interest because of the shock potential.

    Some of the recent changes have come through necessity. Only one replay makes sense as does the semi-finals at Wembley but I really lament the need for the latter - it just dilutes the experience of the final.

    I just hope that any changes that are made aren't too radical - the concept of a knock-out competition and free draw is beautifully simple. It would be a shame to blow so much history

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree about ITV's poor coverage and I feel ESPN have a lot to answer for too but this is BBC sour grapes..If you want it BUY IT!!!!!. All the games should be shown on free to air TV anyways it is an instituton no ESPN or SKY! Also what annoys me is the fact that come final day it all ok again!!!! The magic is back!!! This is wrong as it is the whole competition that produces magic!!!Look at how sorry arsenal were to lose the CCF last the end of the day these cups matter...the media need to get behind al the cups and stop with the negativity!!

  • Comment number 32.

    The idea of scrapping replays and making seedings really would be the beginning of the end for the FA cup. Replays can be vital for smaller clubs, who draw with a big team at home and take them back to their place, ie Orient this year with Arsenal. The glory of the cup is its ability to throw up chances like this and help a club be financially secure for a more few years. If the big teams can't see off a match against smaller teams then its their fault. Fixture congestion shouldn't be an issue with large squads and expert fitness trainers/regimes that these clubs have.

    Seedings would help throw up more chance of a giant killing and big versus small encounter but it would just seem too manufactured. The seeding in the champions league is boring, where you inevitably end up with groups where you know who's going through to the next round and merely just playing for that to occur. THe same would happen in the cup. You could virtually guarentee who's going through cos of the seedings.

    Every match should be played on the same weekend, with replays on the wednesday after. The final should stay at 3pm on a saturday, and we need to do away with semi finals at wembley. I don;t want to hear fans say they get their day out at wembley for a semi final they're happy to lose. They should oly be saying that about getting to a final. It's all money and the FA needing to recoup the costs of building it by staging as many games as possible there.

    I don't know why smaller clubs take lack of interest in the cup, especially as there seems to be greater chances of winning it at the moment ith bigger clubs seemingly less interested. Fans will remmeber winning the cup more than finishing midtable in years to come. AS someone pointed out, i'm sure Birmingham will remember the Carling cup more than this years premiership campaign.

    Would love to see the a Champions league place up for grabs for winning the FA cup. That would be the best way to make it appealing to everyone again, and sadly that's all down to money.

  • Comment number 33.

    Seems to me the only people wanting a Champions League spot for the winners are the supporters of teams who know they'd never get there via a league placing and that is not a good enough reason to change it.
    Teams fight in the league for 38 games over 9 months.A team could draw all it's games in the FA Cup,win pen shootouts and be in the Champions League.Laughable.

  • Comment number 34.


    when the last facup-england home games contract was negotiated the then Chairman of ITV Michael Grade offered a take it or leave it offer along with Setanta for a joint bid of £425 million. the BBC/SKY were not offered the chance to match the bid so its hardly sour grapes from the BBC with regards to regards to not having the rights

  • Comment number 35.

    I think the best thing to do is to scrap the league cup in scotland and english and to have a UK FA Cup, and that would generate more interest!

  • Comment number 36.

    It's simply there needs to be more prize money in the pot. It sad to say but money rules the world and if a clubs can make more cash then the managers will be under more presure to win the cup.

    Also i agree with poster 33. Do we really want a team that grinds out results and bores viewers to death in the champions league if they won the cup... I think the answer is no... But how often does a team like that win the cup? Look at the last 10 cup winners all big clubs except for Portsmouth.

  • Comment number 37.

    "It strikes me that the only way to get top-flight fans interested in the Cup again is to make it matter to managers too. Giving the winners a Champions League place is the only way to do so, although it is unlikely to happen."

    I just knew this pointless, stupid, unrealistic idea had to be stuck in here some where (come up with something original). HOW IS WINNING THE FA CUP MORE DESERVING OF A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACE THAN FINISHING 4TH IN THE LEAGUE? The league is played over 38 games, where you play each team home and away. A true show of the how good you are over a whole season.

    Lat season Chelsea beat Preston North End, Whatford, Stoke (home), Villa, Portsmouth and some one else i forgot about. You think that's justification to play in the CL? Get real. What if Cardiff won it in 2008, should they be in the CL? Yea good thinking.

    Do you work for the FA, because you sound worse than Scudamore, if that's possible.

  • Comment number 38.

    Why don't we just lose the League Cup, surely that's doing more to clog the fixture calendar and dilute knock-out football than anything else? Merge it with the Football League Trophy and have it for Championship sides downwards.

  • Comment number 39.

    ...cancel the sponsorships, work around the loss of revenue and get rid of the frickin' league cup. If you want the FA cup to demand more respect then make it the ONLY domestic cup competition to play for.

  • Comment number 40.

    Get shot of the CC.

    Revert to Champions only in the CL.

    Get shot of replays.

    The football authorities themselves created fixture gluts for the bigger Clubs when they thought rewarding failure was a good idea ie 2-4th place to get in the CL.In doing so they created a bag of cash for getting in it and enhanced their own standing in the game (UEFA). Is it surprising the FAC has lost its gloss and also that actually winning the title even isnt seen as that important anymore? No it isnt is the answer to that.

    Theyve also wrecked two perfectly good euro tournaments ie uefa Cup and ECWC. Both were often better Finals than the old European Cup.

    Reviving the FAC is probably a lost cause sadly. The Clubs wont change their habits unless it becomes essential and unless the rewards for winning it improve. Maybe getting rid of the CC is the best option as it leaves a 'void' of sorts for the FAC to fill.

  • Comment number 41.

    First thought - who runs football in England EPL or FA? It should be for the FA to decide who goes in to UEFA (the union of FA's) comopetitions, not the EPL. I'm an Arsenal fan so the fourth place spot in CL has been dear to me, but would happily vote for the winner of the FA cup going in to CL. It is vital for the future of the FA cup. The FA is scared of the EPL, but those days must change, so that football is properly riun in this country, with the interests of football for everyone served, not just some rich clubs. FA get your act together.

  • Comment number 42.

    @37 and finishing 2nd, 3rd or 4th is justification to be in CHAMPIONS league?


    Offering a cup final CL place is no less unreal than teams that aren't champions playing in the Champions cup..........

    The CL, like the EPL is all, and only about money. So who cares if a cup winner is added in?


  • Comment number 43.

    I think giving the winners of the FA Cup a champo league spot would be ridiculous. It in no way compares to the effort required by teams in the top 4 to play consistently well over 38 games. The champions league offers an opportunity for the most consistent teams from the respective leagues to play in Europe's elite comp. The domestic cup should be kept domestic, with memories for fans being the lasting legacy.

    Take West Ham's cup run so far Barnsley, Nottm Forsest, burnley all at home. Now just two games from the final.
    These games do not merit a place in Europe's elite tournament.

    The clubs finishing in the top 4 deserve their champo league spot much more than FA cup winners.

  • Comment number 44.

    I don't think the 4th Champions League place should go to the FA Cup winners.

    I think getting rid of replays would be a good idea. How often does a minnow win a replay against one of the really big teams? Going to extra time and penalties might give them a better chance of progressing to the next round, which should be the whole purpose of competing in a cup tie.

  • Comment number 45.

    It wont be popular with many but

    Give Champions League place to cup winners (both FA Cup and Carling Cup)

    Have 1st round draw include all teams (no joining at a later round)


    4th is 4th, not 1st. Winners of a cup finished 1st. I dont see a problem with whoever wins getting a CL place. Why call it the Champions League when a 4th place team can get in? But thats a different debate!

  • Comment number 46.

    Look, all the top 5/6 clubs want to do is play PL and CL football, the rest just want to survive.

    The only way you save the FA Cup is to abolish the money temple that is the Premiership.

    For those at Sky and the Premiership, football was only invented in 1992.

    It will never happen because as with the England team its now the tail wagging the dog.

    If you are going to do something radical well change the rules on how gate monies are distributed.

    Lets have no replays but in any matches where a Premiership side is drawn at home to a lower division side, set the admission fee at £20 for an adult and £5 for a child (Burnley played at West Ham the other week, West Ham wanted to reduce the admission fee, Burnley did not, result - empty seats)

    Also, lower division teams drawn away to Prmier League teams get all the gate receipts.

    Premier team has fewer matches, lower league team gets all the finance, the supporters are charged a fair price.

    In addition to the above, tighten control on weakened teams

    If a player is not part of a 20 man squad for an FA cup tie, he is not eligible for the next PL game. Yes, you may get 2/3 injuries but then the PL side can only choose from the remaining 17/18 players for the next game.

  • Comment number 47.

    The only way to achieve it is to give the cup winners the 4th Champions league spot, nothing else would make much difference. But there is antoehr way of thinking about it, making the Europa League a more coveted competition.

    If I ran football, I would only have the top two go into the champions league, third place from the top four leagues (Germany, England, Spain, and Italy) drawn against each other for two extra places, and the rest go to the champions and second place from 'lesser' leagues, and give the winner of the Europa League a place as well.

    Give the Europa League places to the 3rd and 4th placed teams as well as the FA Cup winners. Do this for each major league and the Europa League would be a much more coveted competition. Look at the knockout rounds now and most of the teams in there wouldn't look out of place in the champions league, but it still lacks that quality in the earlier stages, it has been shame that the likes of sevilla and napoli drew other strong teams.

    Unfortunately this will not happen as the clubs will throw a fit at the proposed idea, which is a real shame.

  • Comment number 48.

    On the issue of abolishing replays, surely this would give smaller clubs more chance of advancing against bigger clubs and thus get a larger purse for appearing in later rounds. My reasoning being that, for example, the chances of Orient beating Arsenal at the Emirates was slim to say the least. But in the extra half hour of the match anything could have happened, especially with tired legs and Orient getting the late equaliser. Then if the match had gone to penalties, well it is all down to luck really and they would have a 50-50 chance of going through. Look at Northampton vs Liverpool in the CC earlier this year. It would also ease fixture congestion when the top clubs are sometimes challenging for four trophies.

    Seeding would also be a good idea because the smaller clubs then have a greater chance of being drawn against the big teams.

    As for clubs not taking the competition seriously, if you ask most English players in the top flight the FA cup still commands a lot of respect. The Champions League may have overtaken it, but then it is the top teams in Europe rather than just England, the same way the international European cup doesn't have the prestige of the World Cup but is still a big tournament to win.

    In my opinion the FA cup is far from dead or even close to dying. Maybe all that is needed is moving it off the worst sports channel in the world that is ITV and putting it on BBC or maybe channel 4. You could have a blind monkey commentating on sports and they would do a better job than the jokes that commentate for ITV.

  • Comment number 49.

    @37 and finishing 2nd, 3rd or 4th is justification to be in CHAMPIONS league?


    Offering a cup final CL place is no less unreal than teams that aren't champions playing in the Champions cup..........


    Yes it is. Everyone know's the Champions League is not just for the Champions anymore (rightly or wrongly) but is for the the league winners and best teams in europe, based on the previous season.

    A team finishing 2nd, 3rd or 4th in the Premier League will have had to play the 19 best teams in England home and way, to finish top 4 is a much better achivement than winning 6 games. You could win the FA Cup without having to even play a Premier League team.

  • Comment number 50.

    Second thought - there needs to be a proper place and time for the cup to progress. What about thinking over everything. So here are some suggestions.
    Create proper space in the football diary - maybe two weeks in November (silly international friendly time), two weeks in January, two weeks in March, so that the cup has its place.
    Then address the issue of going out means less games. So how about this as a suggestion:
    Teams are randomly drawn in pools of 5 with each team having two home and two away games. Then like CL winner of pool goes in to Fa cup proper, second to carling cup, third to johnson's paint trophy (or whatever it is) and so on. Because all the teams playing have to go on to the next round, there is no advantage in not playing your best team.
    Advantages - lower league teams get a guaranteed number of games, home and away, a greater chance of a game against a big team, and the possibility if the draw is kind to progress.
    Then in the first round (down to 32 teams in each cup from 160 starters - 92 league and 70 non-league) the winners of the first round go in to the FA cup, the losers go in to the FA plate (like rugby sevens world cup - ensuring that teams losing on day one have something to do on day two). Again, there is no incentive to lose for less fixtures, and small teams doing well to get to FA cup have a reward for losing.
    All of these games up to that point would be without replay (extra time and penalties),but by the time you get to last sixteen of any competition, there are replays, as by now home advantage can be decisive.
    Romance is maintained, clubs are encouraged to go for it, real prize (see previous comment) CL for winners, Europa league for Carling cup, etc.
    All those minor cups are happening anyway, so why not re-brand the whole thing, make proper space for it in the calendar, and away we go.

    Mad or visionary? Not sure. Although the group format has worked really well for the CL. Good teams still come through, small teams have a real go (remember Nicosia from Cyprus in CL?) and everyone benefits, big and small.

    Come on, lets be brave and do something exciting rather than wait for it to fizzle out.

  • Comment number 51.

    how about if we left the fa cup as it is and changed the league cup? i would remove any club in european competition from the carling cup therfore removing some of the much complained about fixture congestion and it would open up the competition to make it a much more acheivable goal for so called lesser clubs the only problem i can see in this suggestion would be sponsorship deals etc as none of the "big" clubs would feature but it would i believe make the fa cup more exciting as it would then be the only chance of a minnow getting a big club

  • Comment number 52.

    Here's the definitive plan: (c) Peoplesgame

    1. Give the winners of the Cup a Champions League place: The Cup winners should represent the FA as one of only two genuine champions in one season.. If the team that win the title win the 'double' then the place goes to the fourth placed team in the league. If the winners have already qualified for the champions league in either 2nd or 3rd, the place goes to the team in fourth place in the league.

    2. Clubs should be allowed to charge spectators what they like for FA Cup matches. At the moment, the FA restrict the minimum price that clubs can charge. The argument is that it is more cost effective to have a half full ground paying £18 each, that a full ground paying £5 each, as the costs of the extra policing & stewarding negates the cost of the ticket.

    However, a reasonable price could be achieved by all three parties - even creating maximum price limits for each round, and offering discounts for fans of lower leagues teams who progress to the third round and beyond... Some of those fans could have been traveling for up to 6 games before they get to the proper rounds of the competition.

    3. Half-price tickets for replays

    4. Return the Semi-Finals to neutral grounds

    5. Return the coverage of the Final to the levels set during the halcyon TV days of the late-60's - mid-80's: There are enought Tv channels to accommodate this, and this would set up the sense of occasion for the Cup.

    6. Bring back the Coldstream Guards/ Salvation Army/ bands back to pre & half-time entertainment at the Final. The FA Cup is all about pomp, ceremony, tradition and structure. surely, we can 'indulge' in one last bastion of tradition and not succumb to fireworks & girl bands...

    7. Bring back bottles of milk to be drunk during post match interviews (not really!)

    8. Essentially, return one piece - just one - element of our football history to the level of prestige that it enjoys outside of the UK and around the globe... the FA Cup gave the world a focal point, and should be as popular around the planet as the Superbowl

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 53.

    how about automatic promotion to the league above for teams that win it, that arent in the premier league.

    or if they are in the premier league, auto entry to CL (been mentioned already i know)

  • Comment number 54.

    The trouble is that these days money talks louder than glory or achievement. It's a reflection of changing values in society, not just football,so unless this changes, the FA Cup faces an uphill struggle to remain relevant. Supporters under 25 have been brought up on Premier League and Champions League and have no attachment to the history, sentiment and folklore of the competition. I would love the Cup to regain the importance and lustre of the good old days, but alas I do not see it happening.

  • Comment number 55.

    The ONLY way to save the FA Cup is to persuade clubs, their executives and managers that the FA Cup is important for their clubs and careers respectively.
    The main reason for it's decline is the lack of respect shown to it by the clubs and managers, fielding weakened sides - this permeates through to supporters who don't want to watch their team in a game that the club/manager doesn't care if they win or not.
    The ONLY way to do this is to give a Champions League spot to the winners. This gives an excellent chance for a middle-ranking club to jump up a level by investing the money it gets from the Champions League, maximising the additional worldwide exposure into marketing bucks etc.
    Otherwise clubs such as Stoke, Villa, Birmingham Everton etc will be forever hitting the glass ceiling. With Financial 'Fair Play' coming in only the very biggest clubs who's attendances and TV rights gives them enough football income to compete at a European level will ever be able to enter the Champions League - but one ray of hope would be giving a second-level club a chance to gatecrash the party via the FA Cup.
    This fixes the FA Cup and lessens the chance of the Champions League clubs from this country being from the same 4-6 clubs ad infinitum.

  • Comment number 56.

    7. At 10:14am on 11 Mar 2011, Jordan D wrote:
    Seedings: no.
    Removal of replays: no.
    Semi-finals: Out of Wembley and back to neutral grounds.
    Final replays: yes, bring it back.
    Mid-week matches: when they did the QFs on four nights a few years back it was a farce, so no, except for replays.

    Fines for weakened teams: yes. Treat the cup with contempt and you should be punished.

    A revamp would ruin it and make it as much of a joke as the League Cup.

    Agree with all of the above bar 2 -

    There is no harm in Wembley semi-finals although neutral grounds nearer to where the clubs are located is preferable

    I wouldn't fine clubs for weakened teams as if they get knocked out then that is punishment enough. Arsenal playing reserves against Orient is a useful way of blooding them especially if they win.

    Overall seedings would be an awful idea and considering you can get into Europe and make a fair amount of cash froma good cup run I'm surprised more smaller teams in the Premier League don't try harder to win it

  • Comment number 57.

    The answer is simple: The FA Cup winners in all European countries win a Champion's League spot in place of 4th place in the case of the EPL. This in one easy decision will revamp the competition in all European leagues let along our own domestic premier league. That in turn will concentrate manager's minds as to team selection and give the supporters (specifically the younger generation) something to get their adrenalin going.

  • Comment number 58.

    Leave the cup alone. If the contest has lost it's aura with the big teams they only have themselves to blame.
    so typical that those defeding finshing 4th as more of an acheivement than winning the cup will all be "fans" of the usual suspect clubs.
    Yes it is more difficult I grant you, but this obsession with finishing 4th being viewed as a "success" (which when thinking about is solely about the money form the joke champions league) has killed the ambition of so many clubs to actually try and win the league as coming 4th is seen as adequate.

    Every club should start the season with the attitude "we want to finish first".

    If they introduce seedings, it will again just be pandering to the needs of the usual "big 4".

  • Comment number 59.

    Also considering the amount of money available in the Europa League I would think that is incentive enough to try and reach the final. Champions League shoudl be for the top 4.

    Birmingham will be in the Europa League next season due to winning a cup and as it will be difficult for anyone outside the current top 6 to qualify the FA Cup provides a good chance especially as either United or Arsenal will be knocked out at the weekend and Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool are already out. If The winner of Utd vs Arsenal then draw City in the next round whoever reaches the final is guaranteed to be in Europe so why field a weakened team

  • Comment number 60.

    Also the top 4 don't really want seeding as it eliminates the possibility of one of their rivals being drawn against each other and clearing the way for them to have a better shot at a trophy.

    Leave the cup alone it is magic for teams like Reading and Crawley

  • Comment number 61.

    The FA Cup is fine. It hasn't lost its 'magic' at all. But I guess if you put the games on terrestrial TV, then of course attendances will drop. The issue there is ticket prices, not the magic (or lack thereof) of the cup.

    If teams want to use it to blood youngsters, then so be it. It gives other teams a chance to cause an upset, but I don't think you'll find too many managers saying they don't want to win it. Arsene will be gunning for it, no doubt - and I'm sure Fergie would love to a double winning season. It would be nonsense to suggest otherwise.

    I find the whole 'weakened team' argument ridiculous anyway. The manager has a squad of players. Let him decide who he fields. If a club like Arsenal choose to field youngsters because it's an FA Cup game against, for example, Northampton, then that is a risk they are choosing to take. Chances are, though, it'll pay

    Its funny that the FA Cup invokes this kind of debate, especially considering its poorer cousin the League Cup seems to get away without it.

  • Comment number 62.

    I’m a little puzzled as to why their isn’t a place in the Champions League for the Cup winners already in place. It should have that as a reward. At least the side that has won the Cup has actually won something (unlike those sides finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th). And why should entry to the Champions League be available to only the select few clubs who can spend the money needed to qualify season after season? It’s not just the Cup that needs this, it’s the English game as a whole. It’s the same old same old rich clubs vying for the title and vying for the Champions League places, we need something to break up this monopoly and the Cup provides that opportunity. What are the vast majority of clubs in England doing allowing this to continue? I suspect the only clubs who are against this are those who are season after season at the top of the table. That’s about what, four or five clubs? Meaning that the vast majority have no way or the means to get into the Champions League (they simply cannot afford to compete against the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea who can spend millions on just the one player). So why are the other clubs not pressing the FA and the Premier league to provide this path, this opportunity for Champions League qualification? They hold the power, they are in the majority. And if the top four or five clubs don’t like it then tell them to push off, form their own league and see how quickly they’d get bored of playing each other week in, week out. Get the Cup winners into the Champions League now. It won’t just breathe fresh life into the Cup but English football as a whole…

  • Comment number 63.

    To make the FA Cup more attractive, the Europa League (the main 'prize' of the FA Cup, other than the trophy and the victory itself) needs to be made more attractive, so why not give the winners of the Europa League entry into the following season's Champions League? That way, entry into the Europa League for winning the FA Cup or the League Cup would suddenly seem a much bigger deal, and teams would take those competitions much more seriously if there was a Champions League place at the end of the rainbow, albeit a season later. The rigours of having to win two competitions would surely weed out the weaker teams, who might otherwise damage their league's UEFA coefficients (surely one of the reasons for not awarding a Champs League place directly to the FA Cup winners), and would also make the Europa League a much more worthwhile competition. At present it's mirroring the FA Cup situation, whereby teams are more concerned with chasing Champs League qualification (see Aston Villa a couple of seasons ago, and Spurs a couple before that).

    After all, the Champions and the Europa are both 'leagues', albeit in name only, so why not allow for some sort of promotion from one to the other?

  • Comment number 64.

    I have an idea for the FA cup that big teams I'm sure wouldn't like - however it would bring "the magic of the cup" back - and this coming from a Spurs fan!

    How about reversing the way the teams enter the cup - i.e. bringing the Premier League in at the qualifying rounds, all the way up to the lower league clubs at round 3. I'm sorry but I don't buy into the "fixture congestion" nonsense - the game today is a squad game, with large amounts of players to draw upon, and if my idea worked it would be an ideal way of bringing youth through.

    I think that it would be interesting to see the big 4 battling their way through up to 10 rounds of cup (perhaps scrapping replays) and it still gives the smaller clubs an enhanced level of revenue that could make or break their annual finances.

    Still, the Premier League would clearly tell the FA where to go with this idea, but worth mentioning anyway!!!!!


  • Comment number 65.

    Call me old fashioned, but how about all games being at 3pm on a Saturday? This season has been absurd: replays from the previous round on Saturday afternoon, then next round proper during the week! People lose track of what's happening and thus interest in the compettion is distilled.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm all for getting rid of replays. Love a bit of penalties. would also help fixture congestion. Stuff the lower league teams playing for draws, at least they'll have to go for it if it's a one off game.

    Other than that I think the FA Cup is absolutely fine. Have really enjoyed it this year.

    Champions League place for the winners is a terrible idea. You want the best teams in the Champions League, and the best way to find out who's the best is by playing 38 league games to decide. The Europa League is clearly good enough for the winners of the FA Cup.

    and I agree with everyone regarding ITV's coverage of Sport. Shocking.

  • Comment number 67.

    Can they put the 3rd round back to December instead of January - I just don't find it the same straight after Christmas and most people are skint after new year which affects attendances

    Would also like to see the teams that join at the 3rd stage be forced to play away if not drawn against a team from their own/higher division and a limit to 3 subs from a possible 4 players instead of the bigger teams having the massive pool of players to choose from if their losing

    At the same time a clock in the ground that stops when the ref wants it to so as to stop time wasting substitutions which I hate

  • Comment number 68.

    Various points to make:

    1. I wish BBC would stop wasting money on F1 - nobody cares, it's too expensive and the grotesque advertising is everything the BBC has traditionally stood against. Bring back FA Cup Final Saturday on the BBC. In fact, just bring back the FA Cup from ITV.

    2. A British Cup? What a nightmare for the police that would be. Could name names but you can work out just how violent certain teams playing others could would all take football violence back a step again...

    3. Champions League for winning the cup? So getting good draws and winning 6 games is more worthy than playing 38 and winning 18,19,20? The January transfer window would likely go even more crazy as squads get a good draw in Round 3, get past round 4 and suddenly it's not even February and they are 4 games away from a Champs League spot. BUY!!!

    4. Get rid of the League Cup. What is the point any more? Apologies Birmingham fans!

    5. I sadly think replays are going to have to go - on the one hand it will hurt the pockets of those minnows who do force replays, but could level the playing field when it comes to shoot-outs...

    6. Separate issue - reduce the size of the Prem - unlikely as the revenue for Sky, clubs, players would all be reduced however...but better for the game perhaps?

  • Comment number 69.

    To do this issue justice, you probably need to have a proper think through of the issues, rather than the somewhat scatter gun approach to the points made in the article.

    However, one key thing here seems to be 'interest' and 'money'.

    I would suggest that if clubs themselves really want to be involved in the cup and to make the most of it then they should look at ticket prices.

    At Chelsea, for example, it cost £40+ to get a seat for league and champions league games. Come the FA Cup and the League Cup and tickets go to £25. Result? You still get a full house and therefore the requisite atmosphere for a game to be played in, people who don't normally get a chance to go can get in and it is possible to afford to take youngsters in. I think Arsenal, off hand, have a similar policy which ensures big crowds.

    Think about it, if for a cup game you get 30,000 at £20 a ticket (or a variation on that ) that is £600,000 in gate receipts. As much as being on TV probably. That makes it worthwhile in itself.

    In the article, there is a picture of empty seats for Reading v West Brom. It would be worth looking at the ticket policy for that particular game and seeing how it compares to non-cup games before conclusions are drawn.

  • Comment number 70.

    #14 "As soon as the English FA Cup is mentioned is it obligatory that the phrase 'world's oldest knockout competition' is tagged on ?"


    Er, no. But thanks for reminding us anyway.

    As a supporter of a "Big Team" I'd love to see replays dropped with all the fixture pileup. Other than that, I like the format and don't want it tinkered with. There's plenty of magic in the FA cup :)

    I think people are overreacting a bit regarding ITV's coverage though. Come on, it's not that bad is it? You still get to watch the match!

  • Comment number 71.

    I would leave the structure of the competition alone but to encourage teams to take it more seriously why not award a league point for each win after the third round. Teams in relegation battles would be desperate for that extra point and so would those chasing promotion or Champions League qualification.

  • Comment number 72.

    Tell me this, back in the day, when the FA Cup was so 'romantic' and exciting, was the Uefa cup winners cup such a big carrot?

  • Comment number 73.

    #70 GreenGunner

    No replays? Isn't that what bigger clubs have big squads for?

    Actually, I think it's probably up to the fans of each individual club to decide if they are happy with how their club approaches FA and League Cup fixtures.

    I want Chelsea to win every game. I might joke 'Mickey Mouse' if we go out of a cup but I'm annoyed if we do lose cup games.

  • Comment number 74.

    There is only one thing to say to this. Wait and see the atmosphere at OT on Saturday, and the judge whether it's lost it's magic! There's nothing wrong with the Cup itselft, but rather certain clubs and managers attitudes towards it.

    However, bearing this in mind, there are some things that could be done to make it worthwhile for managers to take it more seriously.

    Better prize money for getting through a round as opposed to a big pot for the winners.
    The CL place idea is a great one also.
    Fergie's winter break idea we know would be beneficial anyway....but imagine the build up the FA Cup 3rd round if it was the first game after 2 weeks without football!
    All FA Cup matches should be 3pm Saturday's, without exception. Replays Wednesday nights, without exception.
    Semi's should never be played at the Final venue. It's a joke. Particularly when you think 30% of the tickets go to coporate suits!! Tickets for the final should also be 99% for the clubs. Also, Some of the best games I went to were the Villa Park semi's!

    So in fact, no re-vamp needed, but bringing the FA Cup BACK towards it's more traditional roots is what's needed!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    72 fletchhero

    Tell me this, back in the day, when the FA Cup was so 'romantic' and exciting, was the Uefa cup winners cup such a big carrot?
    I think the answer is to do with the scale of the money involved nowadays and partly the approach/priorities of clubs.

    In the past, money was generally much more evenly spread between clubs.

    Nowadays (as in many walks of life), the gaps between have's and have's nots has grown.

    £30m+ for being in the top division. A further £30m+ for being in the Champions League.

    Winning money and attracting players to spend that money on has become more attractive than winning silverware.

  • Comment number 76.

    "@37 and finishing 2nd, 3rd or 4th is justification to be in CHAMPIONS league?


    Offering a cup final CL place is no less unreal than teams that aren't champions playing in the Champions cup..........

    The CL, like the EPL is all, and only about money. So who cares if a cup winner is added in?


    Yes it is enough. How many slots a country is given is based on the strength of their league. Coming 4th in the prem is a lot harder than winning the Belgium league, for example, so this bull poo about "the champions leagu should be for champions" is a load of bulls locks. It's a name made to sale the tournament, it doesn't mean any thing. Would you prefer it if they called it the European cup again, just so we don't have non champions in the CL? That way we'd be politically correct, excellent.

    And since you seem to care about the name of the tournament so such, explain how a cup winner should be in the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE. Since be politically correct about tournament names, a cup win does not make you a champion :P Let's just stop going on about champions in the champions league shall we? It's just a name to sale it, nothing more.

  • Comment number 77.

    No way should FA Cup get entry into the Champions League!

    That is all.

  • Comment number 78.

    #74 Nevs_A_Red

    Perhaps the FA might like to spend more on prize money than on England managers and their own 'running costs'.

    As for the winter break, I don't see the overall merit in that right now. A game or two less over the Christmas period I would agree with but not a break.

    Anyway, I don't think the problem is with 3rd round day. No, the problem comes when European competition is up and running again. There is competition for air time and certain clubs see the matches as an inconvenience rather than as an opportunity.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm young, never experienced the FA cup at it's apparent heights.

    What about scrapping the league cup completely? Leave the F.A cup as it is. You get the magic back by only having the one chance at a domestic cup run?

  • Comment number 80.





    garethom wrote: “Winners of the FA Cup should get a champions league place (the equivalent of 4th place) unless they've already qualified, and then it goes to the league.....This takes away the stupid "Race for 4th" where teams seem content just to finish 4th rather than push on to the next level.”

    Simon Lewis wrote: “What was wrong with European games on Tuesday and Wednesday night. None of this group rubbish. Just have a knock out competition. It always worked and then we could have a proper League and FA Cup. Money is certainly the root of what is wrong with the game.”

    Nelly wrote: “I am sick of the FA pandering to the 'big clubs', and even more using 'fixture congestions' as a cover for not playing fixtures the clubs can't be bothered with. We are in an age when players NEVER play more than 30 odd games a season in total because squad sizes are so big and rotation is the norm. Yet we forever hear the 'big clubs' bleating about 'tired players'. These players are of course playing on surfaces players of old could only dream about, and are playing less league, cup and due to rotation less games full stop than ever before!

    Jeremy Orbell wrote: “...I do think that guaranteeing lower ranked teams a home draw from the fourth round onwards would create interest because it would then at least make a tie more of a contest. So many games this season would've been far more attractive if the venues for the games were reversed.”

  • Comment number 81.

    @63 - they do already, the team that wins the Europa League is put into the CL, I think at the final qualifying stage.

  • Comment number 82.

    "FA Cup" ... the clue is in the name. Scotland, Wales and Nortehrn Ireland fiercely defend their right to an independant FA, so there is/should be no place for their teams in the English FA's competition.

  • Comment number 83.

    Well I'm glad some of you aren't running football in this country. FA winner goes into the CL, never heard a bigger load of crp in my life. It'll never happen and good job too. Completely thoughtless fairy tale idea.

  • Comment number 84.

    TooTightToMention - that idea of scottish teams is amazing - scotland is in desperate need of a revamp and you see constant stories recently of how they are trying to make it more interesting and i think scottish teams in the cup would really make it special, perhaps not all of them as there would be too many but maybe just prem and div 1 from a certain round? (maybe even round 2 to make it interesting???

    also it seems everyone agrees that the 4th champs league spot is the best idea for the cup - it would be so romantic and would be great to help upset the big 4 power balance, like back in the old days when you have all sorts of teams fighting out the prizes each year not the same names again and again.

    my other biggest point is also to agree to get rid of wembley semi's - play at neutral grounds, wembley is the prize for reaching the final, the semi final prize is another ground to visit like old trafford or villa park which im sure for many like me holds a special place in their heart.

    and i think no replays from round 3 - i think one off games are more exciting and dramatic end of.

  • Comment number 85.

    RE the idea of Scottish teams in the FA cup - Scotland currently don't want their players in a Team GB at the Olympics because they fear it will undermine their independence as an organisation, even though FIFA, UEFA and the IOC have all said that it wouldn't be the case. Do you really think then that they will agree to this? They kept England out of the re-vamped Home Nations tournament, they clearly don't want anything to do with English football, and it will never happen.

  • Comment number 86.

    The FA Cup still counts for a lot at most levels bar the Premiership teams (although,as MrBB points out,the fans still want to win it).

    The money for staying in the premier league for,say Stoke City,means the FA Cup isn't as important.The same for,say Chelsea,who are chasing a league title and Champions League victory.

    I'd leave the cup as it is,as even though the big 4/5 clubs don't put out their very best teams they still have won most years bar the odd one or two over the last 25 years,but there are still plenty of shocks (Leeds at Old Trafford)plenty of excitement at the prospect of the 1st round proper for clubs like Buxton and big pay days for Leyton Orient.

    Winner should go into the Europa League,with the runner up as "1st reserve" if United/Chelsea/Arsenal win it.If 2 CL qualifiers make the final move the Europa League places down the league as they do at the moment.

  • Comment number 87.

    the only reason this year fa cup is being played before the end of the season is because uefa have to have wembley for 2 weeks before the final so no matches can be played their sso the fa moved the cup final date to an earlier date

  • Comment number 88.

    *fa cup final

  • Comment number 89.

    I think in recent years the FA Cup has declined because of the League Cup. Many of the big teams see winning that as a stepping stone for greater success for the final 3rd of the season; (take the likes of Man Utd & Chelsea over the last few years). I think the timing of the FA Cup comes into the season at a stage where the bigger teams are focusing on the Premier League & Europe more.
    On the proposal to change the competition's format, I agree with the idea to scrap replays & have Extra-Time & Penalties. However, to make things intresting and too bring the crowds back; I would like to see a 'GOLDEN GOAL' format placed in extra-time. This way, I can see many (lower-league teams especially) take a nothing to lose approach & go all out. I believe we would still see many Giant-Killings, plus, games could be more intresting & would be decided there & then.
    The idea however of seeding is riduculous and should never be implemented. If it is, then that will be the final nail in the coffin of the FA Cup.
    Also, scrap the semi-finals at Wembley and have SF's played at neutral grounds.

  • Comment number 90.

    The FA Cup doesn't need changing. Just get rid of the meaningless League Cup to reduce fixture congestion. The only problem ties are the ones between two 'disinterested Premier League sides.' I doubt giving the FA Cup win a UCL spot would totally fix this problem but it would certainly give the teams the financial motivation they sadly require to take the competition seriously these days.

    I'm hoping for a Manchester Derby final - I reckon most people would think that would be worth watching.

  • Comment number 91.

    78. At 12:56pm on 11 Mar 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #74 Nevs_A_Red

    Perhaps the FA might like to spend more on prize money than on England managers and their own 'running costs'.

    oooooh. an un-modded scythe at the FA. Excellent! :) Nice work MBB, nice to see your still in good form.
    Too true though. Links in to my comment on the corporate suit's at the semi's and final's the last year. It's a disgrace.

  • Comment number 92.

    People are living in the past. Football has moved on. The Champion's League and Premier League dominate. This is because they are so well marketed by Sky that the FA is now more or less irrelevant. The same is happening to international football.

    The FA on the other hand are very poor at marketing and have let the FA cup slowly slide down the toilet.

    Sure a lot of people would like to turn the clock back to 1990, but its not going to happen.

  • Comment number 93.

    As someone who ISN'T a football supporter but who does enjoy watching the odd game on TV, especially FA cup matches when the underdogs do well, I think that a way of catching manager's attention would be to award points towards the League (no matter which one you're in) for the final stages of the FA Cup.
    I know that this won't happen but wouldn't that focus some attention on the competition!

  • Comment number 94.

    Giving the FA cup winner a champions league spot is a goog way for top teams to take it more seriously in may opinion.

    There is one danger about it though! If 'lesser' teams do win it, what chance do they have in the champions league? How far do you think they are going to get to? It might not sound important but the number of champions league slots (and how many qualiflying matches they have to play) is determined by how the teams of the country do.

    Hence if 'lesser' teams win the FA cup and dont perform in the champion league several years in a row, one of england's allocated slots might be removed and given to more 'performing' countries.

    How damaging would that prove to the PL and the FA?

    england have 4 champions league slots because of how far the english club d

  • Comment number 95.

    1, Get rid of the League cup, it congests the season too much and NO club of any size ever takes it seriously until the quarter/semi finals anyway.

    2, Give the FA cup winner a CL spot.

    3. Have all league clubs enter the competition in the first round, it will mean rejigging the whole structure, but it's not too difficult to do.

    4, Keep the replays, as without the League cup there will already be a few days extra that are football free and it's the only FAIR way to decide the winners of a drwan match.

    5, Seed the competition in the first round, this will spread money more evenly to the small clubs, increase the chance of a 'giant killing' and revitalise fans of lower level teams who feel that the FA only care about the BIG clubs.

  • Comment number 96.

    Agree with most comments on here. To bring the FA Cup back to life I think the following have to be addressed:

    a) Scrap Wembley semi-finals. The whole point of the FA Cup (apart from upsets) is that 'cup final day'. Everyone remembers at least one that stands out. Clubs should earn the right to play at Wembley by beating all that have stood before them. Don't give it to semi-finalists, they don't deserve it, give the ties back to neutral grounds. Maybe Old Trafford and The Emirates (as opposed to Villa Park).

    b) All cup ties are played on a designated weekend. None of this nonsense where a 4th round games are taking place alongside 5th round ties etc. Any league games that are postponed should be played midweek and then have the FA Cup Replays played the weekend following the original tie.

    c) Offer more incentive to smaller clubs. Scrap the Champions League place for 4th place and give it to our domestic cup winners.

    d) Abandon the League Cup. Let's be honest, it's got no purpose, it's a shorter FA Cup really with only the best teams allowed in. Free up a load of dates in the footballing calendar and make the FA Cup the only cup worth fighting for (For clubs who aren't in Europe anyway).

    e) I wouldn't penalise teams for fielding weaker teams, I believe it's their choice who plays. If Arsenal or Chelsea sent out a weak team and lost to a League 2 side then it's their fault. The League 2 side gets to march on into the next round to pick up more money and a potential lucrative tie. If a big club fields a weaker team and wins then I don't see any argument.

    f) Make sure that 'Cup final day' is the very last day of our domestic season. The Charity Shield should open the domestic season and the FA Cup should close it.

  • Comment number 97.

    If its getting the crowds in then maybe the big clubs should adopt Arsenals Carling Cup ticket policy with tickets starting at £10.00 the Carling Cup games at the emirates are always filled no matter who the opposition is. Its unfortunate that these days high ticket prices spoil the game.

    Not sure that having the winner in the Champions league is a good idea, Can you imagine the embarrasment if a club like Millwall had got into the final, Everton were the lowest ranked team to qualify for the champions league and look what happened to them definately a no go.

    I see moaning about ITV as good as ESPN is its not available to teh masses, we could do with more games on the free to broadcast channels.

    The cup format its self I think works quiet well maybe we could split the premier league teams in two and bring some in in round 2 like they do in the carling cup so lower league teams have more chances of playing them then they do currenntly, but then that takes away some magic of teh 3rd round draw.

  • Comment number 98.

    The only thing that they need to change is the ticketing allocation for the final. I went 2 years ago and there were far too many corporate and Club Wembley tickets and lots of Chelsea and Everton fans missed out.

  • Comment number 99.

    Points awarded in the League if you win the FA Cup? The worst idea on here so far.

    Do we honestly think the best way to add value to the FA Cup is to devalue the Premier League?

    In the words of Richard Keys, Do me a favour.

  • Comment number 100.

    97. At 1:52pm on 11 Mar 2011, Barka14 wrote:
    If its getting the crowds in then maybe the big clubs should adopt Arsenals Carling Cup ticket policy with tickets starting at £10.00 the Carling Cup games at the emirates are always filled no matter who the opposition is. Its unfortunate that these days high ticket prices spoil the game.
    Maybe the FA should enforce a fair pricing system for Cup games? Allow teams to choose a ticket price but scale the options for each club. I imagine the cost of Manchester United hosting a game is larger than that of Brighton. Or, offer every club a set ticket price of £15 for the first tier, £20 for the second tier and £25 for the 3rd tier. Then allow clubs to charge what they want within these constraints. Would definitely draw a bigger crowd.


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