The ‘magic’ of the FA Cup returns this weekend. Despite non-league teams making it into the 5th round, thanks to the good ol’ squad rotation, does anyone really care about the FA Cup anymore?
I’m sure if you took a vote, the majority would rather be watching Premier League football this weekend. I don’t like to say this, but FA Cup weekends are starting to feel as exhausting as the dreaded International breaks.
Now don’t get me wrong, it hurts me to see the FA Cup in a state where people seem bored of it. The older generation will argue this, claiming the magic of the FA Cup still burns brighter than ever, but I personally disagree.
So how do you bring the magic back? I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and here are just some ideas…
Champions League Qualification
This idea has been thrown about quite a lot recently and I think it’s a no-brainer. The FA Cup winner should get qualification to the Champions League. If the FA Cup winner has already qualified for the Champions League, the final CL place will then go to 4th. The obsession with 4th place infuriates me; I actually see fans wanting to finish 4th rather than win a trophy. It doesn’t sit with me at all. I think this kills two birds with one stone, the obsession with 4th place dwindles and the importance of winning the FA Cup increases. A Europa League place will go to the runners-up if they haven’t already qualified for European competition.
Now I know the counter argument for this – Well, what if Wigan Athletic were in the Champions League when they won it in 2013, blah blah blah. Well, the truth is, if they managed to win the FA Cup (a knockout competition including Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham etc.) then they deserve their place in Europe!
Semi-Finals – Neutral Venue (not Wembley!)
There is no doubt that having semi-finals at Wembley takes the shine off the final. Wembley is hallowed ground and should be reserved for such occasions. Semi-Finals should revert to being hosted at neutral grounds; Old Trafford, Villa Park, St. James Park, there are plenty options.
All TV Coverage for the FA Cup should be on free-to-air TV. If we are to believe what we hear and read, this competition is the bread and butter of English football, the working man’s competition, so let’s make sure everyone can tune in! Without knowing how the TV rights work, my feeling is that on an FA Cup weekend, you should have 3 games on Saturday, one after the other, and the same on Sunday. Get people excited!
FA Cup Final Coverage
FA Cup Final day needs to be the biggest day in the English football calendar again. Think big - Think Superbowl. People from all over the globe, who aren’t even interested in American Football, watch the Superbowl purely because of the hype. The build-up to the final should be advertised for weeks prior. We need to get American as possible – This is the biggest game of soccer ever to have been played – Over dramatize!
The FA Cup final should be on a Saturday where no other matches in England are played on that day, the week after the Premier League has finished. A 3pm Kick-Off with the build-up starting from 10am would be perfect.
Ticket prices for all FA Cup games should be capped at £20 (bar the final). £50 (or more) to watch a Premier League team play at home to Crawley is ludicrous. A £20 cap would ensure the grounds are full for most ties.
FA Cup Final Tickets
Speaking of tickets – A 25,000 allocation for each finalist, in a 90,000 capacity venue, is nothing short of ridiculous. Increase the allocation for the real fans and cap final tickets at £40.
Personally I hate replays, but I understand how important replays can be for smaller clubs in the earlier rounds. I would keep replays active until the Quarter Final. From the Quarter Final onwards, it’s true knockout football.
All teams enter in Round 1
I get there is already a fixture congestion for clubs, but if you want to win a cup competition, why should bigger teams have a divine right to enter at a later stage? All clubs should enter at Round 1, improving the likelihood of non-league clubs meeting the big boys. Talk of scrapping the League Cup is strong around this idea too, and if needs must I wouldn’t complain. This would lend more importance to The FA Cup too.
The FA Cup – Not the Emirates FA Cup
Although sponsorship has been around for the world’s oldest cup competition since 1994, the focus seems to have grown in the past few years. The FA Cup is The FA Cup, end of argument – Sponsorship money is already corroding football, leave the trophy out of it.
So that’s it, now I’m not saying that it’s feasible to implement every single one of these, but it’s a few ideas that would go a long way in restoring the magic back into a cup we all love. Let’s make the FA Cup Final the biggest day in the footballing calendar again!
Any other ideas? Tweet me @zefutbolwriter