On Sunday, the British public were treated to the enthralling encounter of Cardiff City and Fulham on the BBC. Only 5,199 people attended the drab 2-1 win for the away side. Cardiff manager Neil Warnock even admitted that he ‘struggled to get out of bed’ for the tie.
The rest of the Third-Round weekend wasn’t exactly a thrill a minute either.
The highlights featuring Millwall defeating a Bournemouth second 11, Plymouth earning a replay against the Liverpool U15’s and Rooney scoring a tap in v Reading.
In all fairness, the FA Cup has been a waste of time for a few years. It’s irrelevance these days, has only just caught up with me.
At first, the Premier League clubs began resting players to prioritise the league. Now, the Championship clubs are following suit and even League One clubs are occasionally liable!
It is getting to the point where even the so-called giant killers are seeing the competition as an interference.
In fact, when it dawned upon me that it was FA Cup weekend, I was a little disappointed. Long gone are the days when the Third Round was some magical sequence of fixtures in which anything could happen.
It was at that point that I realised it. The FA Cup is becoming the international break. An unwanted interlude from the drama of the Premier League!
Times change. The FA Cup final is no longer the stand out date in football fans’ calendars. Far from it! Winning the whole thing doesn’t even take priority over promotion to the Premier League anymore.
I understand that for the clubs in the lower end of the Football League or the non-leagues, this competition still represents something special. It represents hope of playing on the stage they dreamed of as youngsters, a chance to accumulate tales to tell the grandkids.
The 9,000 Plymouth Argyle fans at Anfield on Sunday, certainly did their best to restore a little magic to the cup. Liverpool’s team selection was a quick slap down to their passion, however.
Is there a solution?
We need more teams to take it seriously. By the time the majority of us start tuning in, most of the sides who actually care about the FA Cup, are out. The competition just ebbs out into half-arsed Premier League sides fielding weakened sides and drab games getting the big build-up by desperate broadcasters.
To revive the rotting corpse of the FA Cup, more incentive is required. Would it be feasible to offer Champions League football for the winners? Or a huge sum of money?
Perhaps a complete rebrand is needed. The Premier League has found it’s way into virtually every market around the globe. This is due to a strong brand. Make the FA Cup some huge showpiece, with massive incentives for even making just the next round.
The problem though, is that football is all about money now. Domestic cup competitions are seemingly only for the dreamers, for personal pride. Money is the only way to save this beautiful old trophy, unfortunately.
Although I am not holding my breath on the FA to make the radical changes needed.
Until then it’s two Premier League teams battling to see who is the least unmotivated and Neil Warnock longing for a Sunday morning lie in. Oh joy!