23 February ~ Another weekend of FA Cup action has passed by, with coverage packed with platitudes from pundits, commentators, managers and players towards the world’s oldest football competition. Yet reform is being suggested, again. Replays may be scrapped and ties from the third round onwards moved to midweek. The FA Cup just isn’t “big box office” any more, according to Ian King of Twohundredpercent.
“There are some of us on the sidelines who genuinely believe in the competition, but that number is dwindling,” King writes, before pointing to Premier League clubs’ ambivalence towards the Cup as one of the main factors behind its decline. The mooted changes in structure are ideas “that feel moulded for non-footballing reasons”, with Premier League clubs clearly in line to benefit more than their lower-league counterparts from the change.
While Hull manager Steve Bruce suggested that replays should be scrapped following his side’s draw with Arsenal, “the camera shots at the end of the match showed Hull supporters celebrating grinding out a draw there rather than turning almost tumescent with rage at the possible effect that the result might have on their chances of getting back into the Premier League”. Yet the decision will not be in the hands of the supporters: “The truth of the matter is that in modern sport [the wealthiest] always get what they want. We, the rest, will decide whether we wish to bother continuing to engage with it all. In the case of the FA Cup, it is starting to feel as though that decision is already a done deal.”