As many readers of this blog know, I am a massive football fan. The FA Cup is a cup competition in England that is one of the most historic in the world but it is a competition that has seen better days and I believe something needs to be done.
There has been lots of talk in the press over the last week of how to revamp the competition, with much talk about getting rid of replays but I don’t think that removing replays will do much to breathe new life in to the competition. To me it’s not the amount of games that needs to change, it is the perception of the competition as a whole.
The BBC and the FA over the last few years have been trying to do a lot of PR, branding and spin to increase the perceived value of the brand with slogans like “the magic of the cup” “Every game’s an adventure” and so on, but I don’t think it is working.
The reason I don’t think it is working is because of what I saw over the weekend. Whilst watching a couple of the live games on TV I saw a lot of empty seats. At the moment people don’t think it is worth paying to go to a cup game but if it was a league game they would. The FA needs to help clubs get people in to games, by offering discounts, working in the communities etc, just doing anything to fill the grounds, as if you see a full ground, it creates more of an atmosphere, looks better on TV and gets more people talking.
Changing the prize
The FA need to change the prize for the FA Cup. If they could negotiate for the winner of the cup to get a Champions League spot, then winning the cup is more valuable. They could make a rule that you could only make two changes from the starting 11 at your last league game to make sure the competition is played with most of the star players of the big teams. You could make it so that the two finalists, as a reward get to enter the competition in the 5th round the following season. More needs to be at stake for the competition to gain value.
To the big clubs winning the FA Cup its not seen as much of an accomplishment any more, as they are so focused on the Premier League and the Champions League, until this mindset changes the FA Cup will continue to be a much smaller competition than it used to be. If the FA invest in the competition they will be able to charge more for TV rights because at the moment I can only see the value of the TV rights only going in one direction while the Premier League and Champions League go the other way.