Premier League in talks to give FA Cup final its own day
Plan is for all top-flight matches to be moved to the Sunday to clear stage for Wembley showpiece
Friday 27 January 2012
The Football Association is in discussion with the Premier League over moving all top-flight fixtures on the weekend of the FA Cup final to the Sunday in order to ensure full focus on the governing body's flagship domestic event.
Last season Manchester United clinched the Premier League title just hours before Manchester City won the FA Cup. This season the Cup final weekend will again clash with the penultimate round of Premier League fixtures, as the season has to finish early enough to allow a four-week window before the European Championship. But the FA is optimistic that the top-flight games can be played as a block a day after the final.
There will still be a full Football League programme on Cup final day, but with most kicking off at 3pm they will be over by the time the final begins at 5.30pm, the tea-time slot broadcasters are so keen on.
Next season the same issue will arise, because Wembley is hosting the Champions League final again and Uefa insists on a two-week window, but the FA is hopeful that come 2014 the Cup final will be restored as the finale to the domestic campaign.
"The scheduling of the FA Cup as the last game this season and in 2013 is impossible," said Alex Horne, the FA's general secretary. "Ideally it will have a day of its own on a weekend and the Premier League are open to this." Looking longer term, Horne said: "We're pretty positive we will get a clear day in the calendar."
Horne, speaking at the publication of a report by Deloitte on the financial impact of the FA Cup on clubs, said the FA was looking at how other countries and other sports ran their cup final equivalent to see if they "can make something more of the day". The NBA, the NFL and German cup final are among the events the FA has taken an interest in. There no plans to alter the structure of the tournament, with replays remaining part of the competition. "They are integral to the magic of the Cup," said Horne.
The report highlights the importance of the Cup to clubs in lower leagues. Leyton Orient's run to the fifth round last year generated 30 per cent of the club's revenues for the year. Last year Crawley Town earned £1m from their fifth-round tie at Old Trafford alone. For the top-flight clubs, the income from the competition is significantly less important: Stoke's five-game run to the sixth round in 2010 amounted to £2.1m, or 4 per cent of the club's annual income. Last season they totalled £3.5m for reaching the final, where they lost to Manchester City.
"We are not trying to justify the FA Cup," said Horne, who suggested that its continued relevance to the big clubs could be seen in the fact that few Premier League clubs have fielded weakened sides in this season's Cup.
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