Does the magic of the FA cup still exist?

The cup competition that first started in the 1871 season began it’s first round a few weeks ago but does it still mean the same to clubs these days?

The FA cup is renown for David’s beating the Goliaths, non-league clubs making the pot for the third round draw and a big Wembley final. However in recent years, things have changed with the cup and it seems for the worse.

Wembley used for semi-finals as well as final

The national stadium is a prestigious ground that a player would be thrilled to play at just once in their football career. Although due to the FA overspending on the stadium, they deem it necessary to use Wembley for both semi-final games as well as the final to boost turnstile revenue. For years the semi’s would be played at a neutral venue and this made the final at Wembley feel extra special and significant as the teams were 90 minutes away from winning the FA cup at the home of English football.

TV deals massively change the FA cup

BBC used to have access to many of the games across the weekend but now games are changed to Friday nights, across the weekend and even played on a Tuesday. The game of football thinks more of the money than the travelling fans having to make huge journeys to watch their teams play on a cold Tuesday night for example. BT sport and Sky sports, channels which not everyone has, have now paid for the games to be shown on their channels, taking away the traditional 3 o’clock Saturday games. With the Premier League clubs getting more and more money from the latest TV deal, fairy-tale results like Bradford beating Chelsea 2-4 at Stamford Bridge will now become even rarer.

Since the 1st round of the FA cup kicked off this season, only three non-league teams managed to see of their opposition so far baring replays. But the truth is apart from the clubs lower down in the English leagues, not enough players have an FA cup game at the forefront of their minds. Instead the Premier League and European games have taken over the FA cup with teams featuring in such competitions using the FA cup to play fringe and youth players.

Nothing compares to the reward of the Premier League

In truth, most football teams are completely driven by money. As much as it’s nice to think a team runs because of their love for the game, in the Premier League in particular, it doesn’t happen. The winner of the FA cup gets £1.8m prize money which to Non-league or lesser teams would be a life changing amount of money to improve the club.

However in the Premier League, every team know matter where they place gets a share of the TV deal money. How much you maybe thinking? £84m each. So last year when Sunderland went down, in total they bagged almost £100m for finishing bottom of the Premier League. Now you can see why for Premier League teams especially that the FA cup isn’t an issue. If they managed to get to Wembley, great. A good day out for their fans which will bring in more money – but realistically its all about the Premier League money.

In the third round of the competition last year, Millwall pulled off a shocking but well-deserved 3-0 victory over Premier League outfit Bournemouth. As good as the result may look though, the Cherries made 11 changes to their starting 11, making sure their best players were ready for the Premier League instead. The shock results in the FA cup just aren’t the same anymore as teams are playing weaker teams, almost happy to accept a lose so they can concentrate on their league campaigns.


Speaking to FA cup winner Steve Ogrizovic

Steve Ogrizovic

Recently I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak to FA cup winner Steve Ogrizovic. Steve won the competition with Coventry City in 1987 when they overcame Tottenham 3-2 on the day. He holds the record for most amount of appearances for the club and also played for Liverpool during his time as a professional footballer. Currently he is Coventry’s goalkeeping coach and I spoke to him about his experiences in the FA cup and what he thinks about the so called ‘magic of the FA cup’.

Do you think winning the FA cup was the best moment in your career? 

Yeah I think so, first and foremost it’s just great to be a professional footballer but when you are a professional footballer, you obviously want to be successful and play at the highest level and you want to win something. I was fortunate to play at the highest level throughout my career. When Coventry won the FA cup in 87, we were big underdogs that day because we were playing Spurs and they finished 2nd or 3rd that year. For people to say that the final was one of the greatest finals they’ve ever watched was a great thing. Even now, barely a day will go by when I’m walking about in the Coventry area and someone will stop me to talk about that final.”

Do you think the so called magic of the FA cup is disappearing?

I think it is to a point yeah which is a real shame, the FA cup was THE trophy. Everybody wanted to get to Wembley because it wasn’t as easy to get to Wembley in those days because now you have the semi final played there, you have Spurs playing their all season now, there is so many more opportunities to get to Wembley. The actual competition itself has probably been de-valued purely because there isn’t that automatic European spot anymore. For me I would say right a Champions League place for the winners and I’m sure the tournament would get treated a lot more seriously.”

Very interesting thoughts there from an FA winner himself Steve Ogrizovic. Do you think a Champions League place should be offered to the winners of the FA cup? Tweet me @JournoDanB or @gbarticles to discuss with us your thoughts.



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