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If England Doesn’t Care About the FA Cup, Why Not Export Selected Matches Overseas?

liverpool fa cup If England Doesnt Care About the FA Cup, Why Not Export Selected Matches Overseas?

This morning I was listening to BBC Five Live commentator Alan Green complaining about poor attendances in this weekend’s FA Cup matches. The two examples he gave were the crowd of less than 15,000 for a west Midlands derby between Birmingham City and Wolves, and the fact that tickets were still available yesterday for Sunday’s Manchester derby, although it is now sold out.

The last time Birmingham played Wolves at St. Andrews was in the Premier League, last May. The crowd that day? More than 26,000.

Those are two isolated examples, but when watching FA Cup matches on television this weekend, it’s a safe bet to say that you’ll see more empty seats than a typical Premier League weekend. And this is the magical third round of the FA Cup. One of the highlights of the English football season.

Alan Green’s comment about the apathy among football supporters got me thinking. If the majority of football supporters in Great Britain either can’t afford or can’t be bothered to show up to watch one of the crown jewels of English football, why not give those of us who do care the opportunity to watch some of these games in person? While Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has ruled out the 39th game, the concept of playing some professional competitive matches overseas is something that the Football Association should consider.

Why not play Manchester City against Manchester United in New York? It would be a guaranteed sold-out crowd. And it’s just a seven hour hop across the pond. If not the Manchester derby, the FA could pick one or two selected ties from the third, fourth and fifth rounds of the FA Cup and play them overseas to add more excitement to the tournament. But most of all, it would add a massive shot in the arm to a cup competition that most Brits are nonchalant about.

No matter what happens in the FA Cup between today and Monday, you can be assured of two things. One, a few of the British newspapers will write about how the magic of the FA Cup is gone. Two, one or two of the panel on The Guardian’s Monday edition of the Football Weekly podcast will moan about how uninterested they are in the cup competition.

The level of interest among most English football supporters about the FA Cup and Carling Cup continues to decline year after year. Meanwhile, soccer fans around the world would be far more excited and interested to see a match in-person from one of the world’s most famous cup competitions. Some Brits may argue that it may tarnish the history of the tournament by playing some of the games overseas, but I’d argue that the rise of the Premier League, the priority that is placed on Champions League qualification, plus the indifference most supporters of Premier League clubs gives to the FA Cup has already tarnished the tournament. And that indifference seems to get worse as each year passes.

If the Brits don’t care, be rest assured that we foreigners do.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

20 Responses to If England Doesn’t Care About the FA Cup, Why Not Export Selected Matches Overseas?

  1. SoccerLimey says:

    Gaffer,

    You’re really pushing it on this idea. It’s a non-starter to think that United and City would even consider playing overseas in the middle of a hectic Christmas program. New York in January ? Are you kiddin’ me ? OK. Then maybe Florida where it’s warmer. Still a bad idea.

    The FA Cup will never be the tournament it was There is too much money in League football now and not enough reward for FA Cup success, at least for the bigger clubs. When asked this week, Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley said he would trade an FA Cup run for League status next season. There are simply bigger fish to fry these days.

    The magic of the FA Cup is still there for the lower league teams, just not for the big boys anymore and with the economy, fans are budgeting better and FA Cup tickets are not a priority. Maybe TV coverage should be severely curtailed to encourage fans to go to the games but again, the FA needs the money.

    A better idea for me, which would never fly either, would be for the FA Cup winners to get a Champions League place to give it some added status. However, I doubt UEFA or the Premier league would entertain any of that.

    Overseas games are a great idea in thought, but in practice, just aren’t possible logistically.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Man City vs Man United was used as just one example. That game wouldn’t necessarily be the one that would be selected.

      The draw for the third round of the FA Cup was announced on December 4, so the FA would have more than one month to pick the teams and figure out of the details. No special seeding would be needed. The best matchup would be selected for the overseas market.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • IanCransonsKnees says:

        I don’t understand this constant desire to export a product rather than develop your own? Surely MLS deserves the chance to develop and grow rather than have competition brought into their own back yard? It wouldn’t work unless it involved the top 6 teams and who’s to say that they still wouldn’t put out weakened sides if they have bigger fish to fry in other competitions. Moving matches to other countries will not breathe life into the competition.

        • The Gaffer says:

          IanCransonsKnees, the nearest MLS team to me is 1,000 miles away. If I want to go see a top flight game in America versus England, I could fly to Manchester, England and be there in 9 hours, or I could drive from my home to the nearest MLS team to me, which is 16.5 hours away. And I can guarantee you that the quality of football on display between DC United and any team in the Premier League would be a massive difference.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • IanCransonsKnees says:

            How about the USL teams, would a merger with MLS strengthen football over there or weaken it? The lack of relegation and promotion is what will affect the growth of the game over there.

            How can you fly to Manchester but not to Washington? ;-)

            Having seen the draw which game do you want exporting, The Victims vs Manchester United? That should be a tasty one with Evra going back to Anfield and those ever so understanding Scousers will give him a warm welcome. They were even booing Tom Adeyami on Friday night.

            Here’s one you might not be aware of. Stewart Downing has been arrested last night on suspicion of punching an ex-girlfriend on a night out, if she’s gone out dressed as a full back he’d never have beaten her! Arf.

  2. jm says:

    While I’d love to attend that match, I can only imagine the team that a top club would field for something like that. There is already enough of an issue about teams taking the FA cup seriously (and not treating it as another Carling Cup).

    I’d also worry about the “anyone can play anyone” notion that guides the competition. If you are set for a third round matchup in NYC, do you have to structure seeding so that you know two Premier League teams will play? Would fans come out for Man City versus a league two side? If you did seed, are you undermining the very competition itself?

  3. Andyb says:

    Football is already a global sport, the premier league is already the best and most watched league, the FA cup is already the most prestigious club competition in the World, premier league clubs already tour around the World – all of which are reasons why you won’t see English club competitions in any other place other than Britain for decades. The FA doesn’t need to hold games abroad like the NFL or the MLB to introduce the game to new people and British people aren’t as nice to give up games like you Americans are. I’d love to see EPL games in America, but it just won’t happen!

  4. trickybrkn says:

    ok I was going through all the reasons why I hate this idea, then thought… If you actually proposed this to the FA and NYC and mayor Bloomberg… they LOVE IT. FA gets £££££££ NYC/NJ gets $$$$$$$. The MEadowlands Stadoin hosted USA v Brazil and drew a near sell out of 77,000 plus. I didn’t go for one reason… It was way over priced. at $100 for a nosebleed. but enough did that you have to feel that this is profitable to actually be considered.

    Thing is you can’t have Bristol City V Villa. It would have to be Leeds V Arsenal or the Manc battle.

    that said I will require Charlie Brooker to offer me a running commentary of the state of the state of the English visitors to NYC. It already is almost comical to so easily pick out the English tourist. Wanna be Made in Chelsea or The Only Way is Essex dressing spray tan depressingly vapid souls who come to New York only to shop.

  5. Mufc77 says:

    Will never happen with the fa cup. I could see them one day having the charity sheild overseas or maybe even a carling cup final but fa cup and league games no chance.

  6. The Gaffer says:

    As predicted, a British newspaper has already questioned whether the magic of the FA Cup is gone, and proves the point by sharing photos of grounds with empty seats: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/gallery/2012/jan/07/fa-cup-attendances-in-pictures

    Whether the FA decides to play some games overseas or not, the fact is that something has to be done to breathe life into this very important cup competition.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

    • dan says:

      This is the same Coventry that lie bottom of the championship, who care more about mere survival than a cup run. I would wager that the sold out Oldham crowd cared a very great deal about playing Liverpool in the F.A cup, just as Stevenage did when they beat my own team Newcastle.

      The F.A cup brings in revenue that, quite simply, keeps lower league cups afloat. There’s nothing a League 2 fan wants more than a premier league giant-killing. £800,000 might be a pittance when you consider the possibilities of a 39th overseas game, but it’s reassuring to know that the F.A still has a soul by continuing to bring the big boys down to the lower levels in order to keep these institutions afloat.

      The F.A cup is a fantastic counterweight to the big bucks attitude of the premier league, it’s always reassuring to know that a multi million pound squad can get a bloody nose from part timers.

  7. SSReporters says:

    It is not practical nor does it make any sense.

    There is no need to rehash the thought of English matches in league or Cup overseas.

  8. bumpo says:

    ” And it’s just a seven hour hop across the pond ”

    The guy is delusional. Nothing says it better than that sentence. Let’s see how excited you are to have to regularly go see a movie in a theater 5 to 7 hour drive away from where you live.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Seven hours is not that long especially if players are flying first class, where they can stretch (and sleep). Flying from London to Moscow is 3 hours and 40 minutes, so it’s not that much more to New York.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • IanCransonsKnees says:

        ‘The sooner this chimp leaves English football, the better for everyone.’ Any chance you can remove this post from above? It appears that the ‘Victims’ aren’t happy about being shown up for what they are.

      • IanCransonsKnees says:

        “Seven hours is not that long especially if players are flying first class, where they can stretch (and sleep). Flying from London to Moscow is 3 hours and 40 minutes, so it’s not that much more to New York. ”

        I think he’s talking about the fans who would have to travel.

  9. brn442 says:

    Gaffer – the FA Cup’s nadir was ten years ago when crowds were really poor. I think both cup competitions have somewhat of a small revival the last 5 years, even the so-called big clubs put out somewhat decent teams compared to back then.

    Your idea certainly makes more sense than a 39th match but – will you (as an overseas punter) really splash out $$$ to see Macclesfield vs Bolton ? Even though it was very entertaining.

    The crowd problem seems to be with mid and lower level Premier League Clubs playing at home. Maybe all first-leg ties should be played at the lower league side’s ground.

    Cup football in other parts of Europe is in even greater danger. As “limey” said – it’s time that cup winners get a Champion’s League Qualifying spot to spark some interest.

  10. gsnardo says:

    Not sure about FA cup but wouldn’t a small club give up a home date to play in America in front of 50000+ fans? I’ve paid top dollar to watch friendlys featuring Man United, Everton and Real Madrid in Philadelphia. I guess the question is wether those same fans would turn out for Wolves or WBA three points at stake or not

  11. The Gaffer says:

    Here’s another article by a British journalist talking about how the magic of the FA Cup is gone:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/jan/09/fa-cup-falling-attendances

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

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