Before you starting reading this blog, you have to understand my love of the FA Cup. As a young boy I remember sitting down with my Grandad on a Saturday in May watching the cup final…..it didn’t matter who was in it, the 90 minute match took over the whole day.
BBC would start coverage in the morning ready for the showpiece at 3pm, the whole country would tune in and FA Cup final day was a national treasure. Wind forward to me now being a 29-year-old man and I still love the Cup. It has a special feel to it……. now the love may be stronger than most due to working in Non-League football for four years.
The FA Cup is a competition for non-league clubs that offers dreams, days out and even more importantly financial rewards that cannot be matched by any other at that level. During my time at Margate we never managed to reach the 1st Round proper, despite coming close on three occasions, but I still remember each run as fondly as any other football memory. 4th Qualifying Round ties against Leatherhead, Harrow Borough and a televised one at home to Forest Green might sound mundane but the memories they give me are joyous…. even though we couldn’t win them.
On Monday evening a debate raged in football as to whether FA Cup replays should be scrapped from the outset. The FA made a bold move to announce that Quarter Finals onwards would no longer have replays, however the discussion is now raging about whether they should be scrapped completely.
Replays save clubs, replays let fans enjoy days out, replays give non-league players the chance to face their own heroes….so why would you want to remove that possibility? The answer is top teams complaining that their players are tired and play too many games…trying telling that to non-league players who work 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and then train twice a week and play a minimum of one game a week. I am an avid Liverpool fan but nothing hurt more on Sunday night hearing Jurgen Klopp say that him or his players will not be part of their replay against League One Shrewsbury. It undermines the competition, the opposition and denies those delirious Shrewsbury players and fans the opportunity to play and watch the players of world class talent that Liverpool possess at Anfield.
I hope the FA come down hard on Liverpool and they are fined heavily for their disregard to the competition, as we all know in the modern game though there is no fine big enough to scare the big boys.
The solution should be simple. The winners of the FA Cup should be given a Champions League place. Remove it from the team finishing 4th in the Premier League.....since when has finishing 4th ever been celebrated anyway?
I hope the FA hold firm and continue to allow clubs in smaller leagues the opportunity to enjoy those magical days out that they can by earning a cup replay….and we continue to cherish our national cup competition just like we used to when I was growing up.
Please football do not bow down to the oligarchs that are removing every traditional aspect of our treasured game.