The FA today announced a controversial plan to do away with replays in FA Cup ties from the start of the 2011-12 season, to create a gap for that oh so valuable winter break everyone seems to love and cherish. Fabio Capello’s backing it, and they’re paying him upwards of £6million-a-year, so if it doesn’t go through it will be more surprising than England’s early exit from the World Cup which…actually wasn’t that much of a bombshell really. But still it wont be mighty surprising if they refused anything the play-doh faced Italian uttered in his broken English. Read more.
What the FA should be doing with the world’s oldest cup competition is to jazz it up so that it’s more exciting, brings in more revenue, and becomes the important competition that we all know and love. So here’s a few things the suits up at Soho Square might like to consider:
1. Finals series
Ask North Americans whether they enjoy a good topsy-turvy finals series in their sports and the answer is likely to be unanimous. So how about it? Maybe not seven games, but five could work. The first game at the neutral venue, then alternate fixtures home and away, first to three. Sky would be happy, and the fans would be happy. What else’s to consider?
2. Award the winner a Champions League place
Cast your minds back to 2004, the last time a team below the promised-land took one of the places in the final. Millwall ended up being roundly trounced by Manchester United but if this rule were in place they would have taken their place in the Champions League as the runner-up owing to United’s third place league finish. Now that would have made a truly intimidating fixture for visiting sides.
3. Foreign entrants
As the owner of oldest cup competition in the world shouldn’t the FA be doing their utmost to make it the best? If the English teams aren’t that bothered about it invite teams from other parts of the world. Man United denied their invite in 2000, and the invite should have been thrown open. Anyone could apply, be put into a lottery, and the result be announced in ‘The Decision,’ broadcast live on ITV, but alas they miss the crucial moment the ball gets pulled out due to a Laughing Cow advert. Some things never change.
4. Let the England team enter
One of the main reasons behind the winter break is to make it so that the England team can have a little get
together around Christmas to exchange presents, and have Fabio read them all a bedtime story. Aw diddums! Instead of this let the England side enter the FA Cup. The logistics might be tricky, however, the chance to win a first trophy since 1966 should negate this, and, lets be honest, it will be only chance we have to win a trophy. As regards players who may have the choice between club and country, give them that choice. The odds on Gerrard ever appearing for England against Liverpool?
5. Move the final to other unglamorous locations
It’s radical, but as the Premier League investigates the opportunity to export a 39th game to other parts of the planet, why not beat them to it? In true FA Cup tradition though, the game should be exported to a country which needs the money, akin to a giant-killer at the bottom level of the game. I mean who wouldn’t want to see the pampered stars of the Premier League battle it out for the cup in Mogadishu’s National Stadium? Or even have Kim Jong Il host the fixture at the Rungrado May Day Stadium in front of 150,000 hecklers?
So FA if you think you’re going to steal our replays think again. Take our afternoon tea, clotted cream, half-time pies, but the replays. Leave them where they belong!