Leading article: Wanted... new hands on an old trophy

Share

This weekend marks what is supposed to be one the high points of the football calendar, the third round of the FA Cup. It's the moment when, by tradition, the pampered superstars of the top division are obliged to share pitches often muddy and rutted and sloping with part-time players whose day jobs might involve driving buses or selling insurance. The ingredients are irresistible. And over the 136 years since the competition began, a storehouse of treasured memories has built up, with giant-killing acts such as Hereford beating Newcastle and Colchester beating Leeds embedded in the public memory.

But the Cup is losing its cachet. Upsets are less common, while some top players and managers claim not to care about progressing in the tournament. The number of teams that has won the trophy in recent years can be counted on one hand. Between them, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have won the Cup in 14 of the past 15 years and Everton, hardly a small club, are the only team to break this tiresome monopoly. There is little wonder the competition arouses dwindling passions.

The standing of the FA Cup has never recovered from Manchester United's decision a few years ago to opt out in order to take part in the money-spinning but meaningless World Club Championship. That said everything about where the most powerful clubs' priorities lay. The widening financial gulf between the top flight and the lower divisions means that even a modest Premiership side such as Reading plan to send out a reserve team for their tie today. Premier League status means far more than an FA Cup victory.

Action is urgently needed to break the stranglehold the top sides exert over the trophy. First, the FA must boost the financial incentives so that teams like Reading will want to take the Cup seriously. At the same time, ticket prices for ties should be reduced in order to prevent the forlorn sight of games that once would have packed in the crowds being played out in front of banks of empty seats. A third restorative would be to offer the FA Cup winners a place in the European Champions League as the Uefa head, Michel Platini, wants rather than it going to the fourth-placed team in the Premiership.

The FA Cup has played too rich a part in the nation's sporting life to be allowed to fade away. It must not be allowed to lose its lustre.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Recruitment Genius: Inside Sales Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Join a worldwide leader in data-driven marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Adviser - Sales and Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a desire to help sm...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Support - Helpdesk Analyst

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a customer focu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A 'match' on Tinder  

Tinder may have inadvertently hit its self-destruct button by charging older users more

Nash Riggins
A Yorkshire Terrier waits to be judged during the Toy and Utility day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham  

There are no winners at Crufts. Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a 'beauty' pageant

Mimi Bekhechi
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn