For a long time, the press have speculated that the magic of the FA Cup is dying. With dwindling attendances across the country, sides putting out weakened teams and it being low on the list for teams chasing titles, teams chasing Champions League spots, teams trying to avoid relegation and teams trying to win promotion to the Premier League, it certainly does not have the razzmatazz that it had in yesteryear.
The FA Cup is a victim of modern football. As teams chase money rather than success, it becomes more important to be in the Champions League, or in the Premier League, than win the FA Cup.
Fans, however, think different. Ask Portsmouth fans, would they rather be in the Premier League still, or be where they are – League Two – with an FA Cup win in recent years. Ask the same to Wigan fans, would they prefer to have stayed up last year, and lost the FA Cup Final, or get relegated but be winners? I think the answers are obvious. When it comes to the fans, the magic is still there. The dream is still alive. Which is why the behaviour of the FA shockens me.
Whilst clubs do not care too much for the FA Cup anymore, and the media see it as an inconvenience – hence their continual writing down of the FA Cup – the fans still love it. It is still the brilliant old competition it always has been. It is still silverware. A chance for a party on the streets. The FA seem to be doing their best to destroy their own competition with their behaviour around the FA Cup Final.
Saturday 3pm, that is when the FA Cup should kick off. This gives enough time in the morning for fans throughout the country to get to the game, whilst time after the game to get home. However, in 2012, the FA decided to change the kick-off time to 5pm. The reasoning behind, as always, was to satisfy TV companies, who felt that a 5pm kick-off time would garner more viewers, both in the UK and abroad.
This shows a blatant disregard for the fans who are important, those in the stadium. The FA Cup is possibly a 3 hour event. Normal time, extra time, penalties and the trophy ceremony. With the 5pm kick-off time, fans have got to be prepared to still be in the stadium up until 8pm. It can then take over an hour to get back to Wembley Station, back to Kings Cross, to catch a train home to where the fans live.
If you were looking at train times, you would be crazy to book anything earlier than 9pm. The last train out of Kings Cross back to Hull is 9.35pm. This leaves little time for anything after the game. Fans of Hull will have to rush back to the station. No pint after the game. No celebrating too long in the stadium if they win. Rather then the FA Cup being an event, the FA, in a chase for TV revenue, are ruining it for the travelling fans.
Even at the semi-final, the Wigan fan pubs were empty as Wigan fans had to rush home to ensure they got a train. This is not right. A 3pm gives everyone enough time to relax after a game, go to a pub for a beer or 6, have a bite to eat, and still get home before Match of the Day starts.
A lot has already been made about the ticketing allocation. For clubs to only get 25,000 each, whilst 17,000 go’s to ‘Club Wembley’ members and the rest to ‘the footballing family’ means a little over half of the stadium will be from clubs of both teams.
The problem here is that the tickets for the ‘football family’ will likely end up in touts hands. Tickets are already been sold by ‘legal touts’ such as holiday companies for twice their face value. Whilst I understand that the FA wants to share the final, the fact is that the tickets that do not go direct to the clubs will end up in the hands of fans, at considerably higher than face value. The FA are basically supporting touting.
Tell me what is wrong with this picture:
The FA are greedy. Whilst everyone agreed that the prices for the semi-final were reasonably priced, the prices for the final are not. I understand that it is a final, and prices will go up, but for them to increase by nearly 100% is disgraceful.
The FA are killing their own competition with greed. They have become part of the problem. Any romance still in the FA Cup is with the fans who go. It seems the FA want to erode this.
The FA, fuck you.