Who Will An FA Cup Overhaul Really Benefit?


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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11 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Fantastic article, any suggestions of seeding or playing midweek would simply destroy the cup. Rather than increasing prize money in the latter stages they should increase the prize and television money in the early rounds.

  2. Wyre Forest Red says:

    My view is that if the next sponsorship deal focussed on discounted ticket prices, rather than boosting prize money in the later stages, the FA Cup could become a family/ community tournament. If EON/ McDonalds etc… could subsidize ticket prices to make them a flat £10 adults/ £5 kids from the 3rd round, perhaps £6 (£3) for earlier rounds, with tickets given to schools, a new generation of fans could be encouraged. Rather than the stuffed suits being given FA Cup Final tickets for the “Footballing Family” as happens each year, each fixture played in each round could be given a pair to raffle or as prizes for events on match day. The “flat price” tickets would mean that an advertising campaign (sponsor led no doubt) could promote tickets to all fixtures in newspapers, TV commercials etc….

    There’s nothing wrong with the format of the Cup, other than the fact that fans don’t want to pay full whack for what has become, in the latter stages at least, something of a reserve team competition.

  3. Martin says:

    I hope they do this and then maybe more fans will realise what is happening and support an alternative FA cup, possibly run by fans and intended to bring the whole sorry nonsense back to being the wonderful sport it once was and still can be.

  4. Alan J says:

    It’s simple…give the winners one of the two Champions League, which goes direct into the competition. If you give them the fourth space, you’ve still got to qualify for the main competition. It would mean the Premiership champs plus the FA Cup winners qualify automatically, with the next two runners-up places in the league take the other two spots.All the big sides will take it seriously then !!

  5. Rob says:

    They’re barking up the wrong tree. The FA Cup is the greatest competition in football, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m hugely resistant to change. Is it broken? Does it need fixing? Maybe, but one thing is does not need is tweaking.

    It doesn’t help that those within and outside the game have chipped away at the Cup down the years. Firstly the Police killed any possibility of second, third and fourth replays by insisting on at least seven days notice of replays – this brought in the notion of replays, and the dreaded penalty shootout.

    Secondly, the FA in pushing Manchester United into becoming trailblazers of the World Club Cup in 2000, pressured them into going to Brazil with the trade-off of not defending the FA Cup. That season, the FA also experimented with bringing the timing of the rounds forward, meaning the Third Round being played in December, rather than January. The thinking being that people often cannot afford the Third Round (now that it’s rarely included on season tickets) just after Christmas, instead hoping that people could afford it just before Christmas instead. It was such a success that the next season was back to normal.

    Finally, in order to help clubs with Champions League and UEFA Cup commitments, the replays were taken away from the semi-finals and finals. This is the one I hate the most, mainly because the FA didn’t really need to do anything as concrete. Rule 11 allows any of the ties to have extra time in the first game if both clubs and the FA agree, and there is usually at least one Preliminary Round game a season, where they have decided that it has to be resolved on the day, and the FA allowed it. All the FA needed to do was to state that if a club in the semi-finals or final was still in European Competition, then if it needed the burden of a replay removing, then any request would be granted. It takes away the situation we had in 2008 where a rule only designed to benefit a handful of clubs wasn’t needed because they’d all failed to make the semi finals anyway.

    As an aside, maybe the reason that Bolton fans stayed away in their droves is a testament to how previous managers such as Sam Allardyce and Gary Megson have regularly put out reserve sides, because Premier League survival is secondary.

    About the only good tweak that has happened in recent years was the removal of Premier League games on FA Cup Fifth and Sixth round weekends, so that sides on a Cup run don’t get a fixture pileup.

    As for the “new” ideas.

    1. Scrapping replays. Let’s be honest, they tried this in the League Cup, as a response to Alex Ferguson fielding a youth side against Port Vale in 1994 and York City in 1995, and the League Cup hasn’t really recovered since.

    2. Midweek Fixtures. “Moving fixtures to midweek has really worked for the League Cup down the years, hasn’t it?” It didn’t exactly work when the FA tried this with the quarter finals in 2006, to allegedly aid England’s World Cup performance. Charlton got a rare home game that wasn’t sold out (what with Middlesbrough having to travel down on a Thursday night), Man City got 8,000 fewer spectators for the visit of West Ham, and the only people who got any benefit, were those Birmingham fans who couldn’t make their 7-0 home drubbing by Liverpool because it was a midweek game.

    3. Shaking Up The Prize Money. Probably the only Premier League club that cares about the prize money at this point is Portsmouth, although Steve Coppell’s suggestion on ITV earlier that the High Court should see that Pompey making the quarter finals somehow proves that they’ll be able to raise the £11.5m owed is pushing it a bit.

    4. Using It To Showcase “Pioneering Innovations”. Christ no. They tried this in whatever the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy was called down the years. And the crowds go down because the innovations are usually half-brained.

    5. Seeding The Competition. Isn’t really in anyone’s interest, because if anything it’ll add to the number of games the bigger sides playing. Besides, the League Cup is seeded in the earlier rounds, and that hasn’t helped it’s credibility over the years.

    No, I’ve a better idea. Leave the FA Cup alone. At the end of January each season, there’s a full program of Premier League midweek fixtures. There’s another one in early to mid-February. Move them to the end of September and October, where the League Cup Third and Fourth Round games are scheduled. And change the Football League cup, so that only Football League clubs enter, and yes, take the Europa League spot away from it. That way, Premier League clubs have fewer games, and only one cup to play for. And if they still don’t play their strongest sides – use the rulebook, and start fining them, and threaten them with points deductions in the League.

  6. Rob says:

    Wyre Forest Red: The “Footballing Family” being stuffed suits is a bit of a myth to be honest. It goes to people who to the tireless work behind the scenes. People who work at County FAs and running amateur leagues for little or no money, referees who get abuse week after week at semi-pro and Pub league level without which those leagues couldn’t run, people who volunteer at non-league clubs at steps 6 and 7, and lower, much much lower – these are the people in the “Footballing Family”, who get the chance to apply for tickets (And it’s a lottery for the chance to buy the ticket, because the number of people who help football run at all levels in this country, whether it be County FAs, Leagues or Clubs would more than fill Wembley Stadium on it’s own). This is their “thank you” from the FA fr all the hard work that gets put in.

  7. Ringo says:

    Sounds to me like Watmore just wants to kill it off.

    Winners get the fourth CL spot.
    Games included in season tickets ,like they used to be.
    40,000+ tickets to each team in the final.
    Make the League Cup voluntary.

  8. Wyre Forest Red says:


    If I thought that the hard working grass roots volunteers actually kept the tickets I’d agree. In my experience, when as a season ticket holder at MUFC I really struggled to get tickets, there were always people who could get them via contacts at various clubs. Get to the Final and there never seemed to be too many neutrals.

  9. Rob says:

    Clubs are also allowed to apply – and if successful, they’re more likely to use it to raise funds through raffles and the like.

    That said, I know people who’ve received tickets through the football family, and the last thing they’ve wanted to do is sell them off.

  10. Micky F says:

    As usual the Premier League clubs are only thinking of themselves and don’t give a stuff that smaller Football League & Non-League clubs often rely on a successful FA Cup run to keep their heads above water. You’d think with all the debt the Premier League clubs have run up they’d be interested in a bit of extra income, whatever happens I think they need to show a bit more respect to a competition which has been running since 1871. Of course I won’t hold my breath waiting for those running the game to grow some Cojones and stand up to the Premier League over this (or any other) issue.

  1. February 24, 2010

    […] reactions to the proposals tabled last week. Scroll down these two articles from the Times and Two Hundred Percent for some thoughtful (/furious) comments. It would be interesting to see if there’s a way of […]

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