9 May ~ "That's the first time I haven't bothered watching the Cup final," said a Tottenham-supporting mate to me last weekend, to which I repeated the same sentiment back to him. My team Arsenal were playing Norwich on the same day as the Cup final and although I didn't go to the Emirates, I was in Arsenal Land for the traditional end of season party, which tends to get messy. I went to a pub where bands were playing, people were dancing and at one point fists were flying; very little attention was being paid to Liverpool's match against Chelsea on the TV screen.
Had Arsenal not been playing that day, I would have stayed at home and watched the final, which is something I have always done up to now. But if the FA does not respect their own competition, why should anyone else.
A lot of anger was expressed about the 5.15pm kick-off and, yes, it should have been played at the traditional 3pm. However, the main devaluing factor in this case is that the match should have been on a day of its own.
Last season was the first time Premier League games were played on the same day as the Cup final. Manchester City's win was accompanied by Manchester United clinching a record 19th League title earlier in the day. That spelled the end for the majesty of the competition, which had already been so sanitised by the semi-finals being played at Wembley.
Two clubs playing at a neutral league ground was a unique and wonderful highlight of a season, which has been sacrificed because the FA need to maximise profits to pay for Wembley. There does not appear to be a cut-off point for this, as the FA have not given a deadline by which the stadium debt will be complete and the semi-finals can return to league grounds.
My bet is that there will never be a cut-off point and arguments will always be made to make as much money as possible. Yet it's not as if Wembley Stadium has no other ways of generating income through concerts, NFL games or England internationals.
Football fans are not asking for these self-defeating changes from the governing body. We want the Cup final to be valued and respected, yet the FA continues to cheapen their biggest prize. The oldest cup competition in world football is being destroyed from within by people whose job it is to maintain its prestige.
That the Premier League has representatives on the FA board, including the vice chairman, David Richards, surely contributes to the prevailing attitude that nothing can stand in the way of the league season.
A Cup final played in Dubai – or held in March, so not to distract the Premier League run-in – sounds laughable now, but it could be a reality in 20 years. Not so long ago, the things that have now devalued football's cultural spirit would have sounded too extreme to be plausible.
Until fans voice more of a protest, the football authorities will continue to put money ahead of every other principle and tradition. Matthew Bazell
Matthew is the author of Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football