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How Important is the FA Cup to You?

In Soccer America today, writer Paul Gardner argued that The FA Cup just ain’t what it used to be. While I agree with some of his points, I believe the magic of the FA Cup still exists based on Leyton Orient’s marvelous comeback against Arsenal on Sunday, and Crawley Town’s heroic challenge against Manchester United at Old Trafford. These were just two examples of matches where the FA Cup spirit flourished this weekend.

For Gardner to criticize Birmingham City versus Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea against Everton as two horrible matches to watch doesn’t have much to do with the FA Cup. Birmingham City is a negative team to watch on most days. Sheffield Wednesday is a team under a new manager who are playing poorly in League One. And Chelsea and Everton are both going through some of their worst patches in recent memory. The FA Cup should not be faulted for a few underwhelming matches.

But whether The FA Cup isn’t what it used to be or not, what do you think? How important is the FA Cup to you? Did you care about the matches played this past weekend? And what do you think about the FA Cup tournament as a whole? Does it turn you on, or not? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

From my perspective, the relevance of the FA Cup has decreased over the years because clubs now place more value in the Premier League and Champions League. With those two competitions meaning so much to clubs financially, the FA Cup by default becomes less critical during one of the most critical times of the season. Right now every match matters. To get your star players injured in, for example, a FA Cup match against Crawley Town, when your reserves could play instead and hold on for a victory, is something that must run through the minds of every Premier League manager who is still in the FA Cup.

The FA Cup is still important for me. Not as important as the Premier League or Champions League. But more important than the Carling Cup. And more important than international friendlies, such is the dire predicament of meaningless international matches.

So, roll on The FA Cup. I’m looking forward to seeing Stoke City play the winners of today’s West Ham United versus Burnley. One of those three teams will qualify for the semi-finals at Wembley. The prospect of seeing Manchester United play the winner of Leyton Orient and Arsenal is mouthwatering. So too is the opportunity for the winner of Birmingham City against Bolton to make it to the FA Cup semi-final. Last, but not least, you have Manchester City or Aston Villa playing the winner of Everton versus Reading.

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  1. Jon Sharp

    February 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Clearly the FA Cup has diminished in stature. But that doesn’t mean it is doomed to increasing irrelevance and, ultimately, abandonment. As a number of folks have pointed out, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup is an opportunity for smaller clubs to capture some fame and glory. I am delighted my team, Birmingham, are playing in the Cup Final next weekend. There sure isn’t anyway they are going to win the Prem or get into the CL. Heck, with one eye on Barca, I even hope that Arsenal field their B team at Wembley!

  2. EastTerracer

    February 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Unfortunately the competition has lost its importance over recent years and it doesn’t matter to me the way it used to. The BBC coverage of the final used to start at about 10am in the morning and players would aspire to win the cup as a major career honour. It just doesn’t mean as much to the top teams and top players anymore. The Premier League is the pre-eminent tournament in England and the Champions League is far more lucrative and prestigious than any domestic competition. Clearly its important to the lower league clubs as an opportunity to test themselves against the best but even that has been devalued as beating a Premier League team comprised of 17-year old reserves can’t be as satisfying as defeating a team of senior internationals.

  3. andyinva

    February 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    The simple answer is below and was pulled from the FA web site.

    premier league survival is worth 20m per season

    Cl qualification is worth 20m

    so what difference does a 1.8m prize mean to a premier league club, realistically its about two weeks of payroll

    Extra Preliminary Round winners (201) £750
    Preliminary Round winners (166) £1,500
    First Round Qualifying winners (116) £3,000
    Second Round Qualifying winners (80) £4,500
    Third Round Qualifying winners (40) £7,500
    Fourth Round Qualifying winners (32) £12,500
    First Round Proper winners (40) £18,000
    Second Round Proper winners (20) £27,000
    Third Round Proper winners (32) £67,500
    Fourth Round Proper winners (16) £90,000
    Fifth Round Proper winners (8) £180,000
    Sixth Round Proper winners (4) £360,000
    Semi Final winners (2) £900,000
    Semi Final runners-up (2) £450,000
    Final winners (1) £1,800,000
    Final runners-up (1) £900,000

    • trickybrkn

      February 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      Well maybe for a club in the top 6, but the rest have very tight bidgets, and for 2nd level and below football, a tie at a large PL stadium is a huge money boost.

      One team that I will always remember is Scarborough FC. In the 2003/4 season they got a tie V Chelsea at the quaint McCain stadium. The Seadogs where in a huge money crisis. It was a 4th round tie and the game was picked as the game of the week. They battled but lost 1 nil to CFC on a John Terry goal. The TV money and gate from temp stand erected for the match kept them alive for at least another year.
      Scarborough FC are now no longer. About 2 mil in debt, put the club under and they sold the ground to a developer to pay them off. A part of English football dead with it.

      So sure 2 million to a owner funded ‘big’ club may be a drop in the pocket, but the FA Cup is not really about those clubs. Its seeing John Terry and Frank Lampard in a 12 by 12 dressing room with no heat, a pitch that is more mud then sod, and fans that can hear every kick, every shout of instruction from a manager, seeing players you never heard of or are past their sell on date putting it all out there because they love playing…. Its the romance of the game. Things just just don’t find in the very corporate atmosphere of most PL clubs.

  4. Simon Burke

    February 21, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I think you are one of the few Gaffer. Most media folk harp on about how Wenger and Fergie disrespect the competition when playing a B team etc.. They also make the same claim in the Carling Cup too. Of course so many managers do it now that I cant see a way back. There is a lot of talent in the squads of the big teams but when they make so many changes it ruins their flow and as such you had half hearted performances from United and Arsenal this weekend. Clearly some of those players didnt want to be out there.
    I certainly love the idea of the FA Cup and think if they want to get credibility back then they have to punish teams who make thousands of changes. England always used to be special compared to the Continent because we as a people took the FA Cup seriously but that’s changed now. Even the people have given up on it because the clubs don’t put out full sides. Money has ruined the game. Let me qualify that as i love the game but money has ruined a lot of the things in the game that were great.
    Money has led to the erosion of tradition and the Cup.
    Money has led to the rise of 4-5-1.
    Money has led to the boring group stages in the Champions League where
    several games are played to see which of the 16 teams you thought would go through did not. Usually you can get 14 out of 16 correct.
    Money has led to so many games being played that international friendlies
    are a joke with players kicking about for just 45 minutes.

    I am now ranting and should stop. The Fa Cup is a victim of money and to bring it back may no longer be possible.

  5. Simon Burke

    February 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I hate to say it but the Cup is dying. You may love Orient’s marvelous comeback but how many of those 11 Arsenal players started against Barcelona? Only 1. The big clubs cant afford to take it seriously anymore and worse still they are right not too.

    MArcotti a few weeks ago came up with a good point that the FA Cup was always a great chance to see live footy on telly so it was special and of course football used to be more of the Saturday institution than it is now so third round day was really special.

    Nowadays, footy is on 9 days a week, the Cup provides little financial incentive for teams desperate to keep afloat in the top flight. Big clubs play weakened sides, medium clubs often play weakened sides and even Blackpool played a weakened side.
    Attendances have fallen drastically now for quite a few years.

    I am from Stevenage so it was great to see them trump Newcastle – its those matches that make the Cup what it is but its not enough to justify a whole competition anymore. I can see why the FA want to revamp the Cup but for me the only solution is to get rid of the League Cup and have just one cup. Spread those games out over the season, or go the opposite route like Spain has and put them all together.

    I am not sure it will work but its dying right now. When Arsenal play United at Old Trafford (just 4 days after they go to Barcelona) you’ll see a B team play again in a quarter final. United will play a weakened side (though not as weak) and it will be a real shame.

    • The Gaffer

      February 21, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Interesting points SImon, but personally I like seeing the B teams play for Manchester United, Arsenal and other teams. The squads of top level Premier League clubs are filled with so much talent now that even a B team gives us an opportunity to see some first-class footballers. I didn’t feel cheated when I saw Man United’s and Arsenal’s line-ups this weekend. Both starting elevens could compete in the Premier League by themselves.

      The Gaffer

    • Peter

      February 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      You’ve got to admit that Manchester United (regardless of who they put on the field) would be embarassed to lose to Crawley Town. And the only reason they field an understrength team is because the opposition is understrength. Next round is Arsenal vs Man Utd- think either team will field 17 yr olds in that one?

      The FA Cup has become a tournament that the major teams do not take as seriously- yes I agree. But how great is it to see teams like Crawley, FC United of Manchester and the likes making a long cup run. They play lower league teams who don’t field B teams so they are proving to everyone that they are legit.

      The FA Cup is SUCH a great tournament- the giant killers come out every season! Look at the past winners of the tournament- chelsea, chelsea, man utd, portsmouth, arsenal, arsenal, man utd, chelsea, liverpool, west ham. Ya you can knock it all you like that the big teams aren’t “fielding strong sides” but they’re still getting to the final and winning. I’d much rather see fringe players play a good game against a weak team than see a united 7-0 win with their first team. I’m a Spurs fan and there are players I’d love to see in the premier league week in week out but they don’t get the chance to. Loan them out? Play them at FA Cup tournaments?

      Long live the FA Cup!! Great tournament! Great atmosphere!

      • The Gaffer

        February 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm

        I’m the same way Peter. I’m not just not sure if everyone else loves it as much. And if they do love it, how does it compare with the entertainment value of the Premier League and/or your favorite Premier League club.

        The Gaffer

        • spurs4life

          February 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm

          Sorry, I submitted my last entry as Peter (my first name) when I should have submitted it under Spurs4life…

          Seeing your club promoted to the next division- financial rewards
          Seeing a top brand name sponsor your team- financial rewards
          Selling a young player on for millions- financial rewards
          Seeing your team play at a huge stadium or having the greats of the game play at your small stadium- priceless

          Does anyone rib on Chelsea for fielding a weakened team in their last champions league match of the group stage? Nope

          People- the FA cup is an amazing outlet for football. History!!!

  6. brn442

    February 21, 2011 at 11:25 am

    The FA Cup has certainly made a resurgence the last few years. The larger club managers are taking cup a little more seriously; compared to the late 90’s, when Manchester United (had to?) withdraw from the competition to play in the World Club Cup.

    However, it’s no where near what it was when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s/80’s. Ironically, it’s the clubs in the mid and lower end of the Premier League that don’t seem to make it a priority, and the poor crowds reflect that.

    Cup football is still an important part of the sport; it’s the closest thing we have to playoffs. I think it’s time for UEFA to consider giving Cup winners a qualifying spot in the Champions League.

  7. Dem Louka

    February 21, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Big fan of the competition. It gives the chance for the smaller clubs to meet the big boys and play their hearts out for a win or replays. This year we have so far seen Crawley Town nearly earn a reply v Manutd and L.Orient get their big money replay against Barcelona’s conquerors Arsenal. Alway’s filled with passion, pride and get to see some of lesser fortunate teams make a stake in the FA Cup with their togetherness and play their hearts out and that shows that is worth more then money. Who ever we support, we all love to back a lower-league favourite for a great run year after year. Only missing is the old Wembley that was best FA Cup final daysfor me with team songs and hours of tv coverage and interviews. but still love it. FACUPLAD.

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