Monday, 15 February 2010

THE MAGIC OF THE FA CUP?

I think not...

The FA Cup: Losing it's pulling power?

Last weekend saw the latest round of FA Cup ties in England.  Attendances on average for FA games are bottoming out.  Even the most ardent fan can see what direction football is taking in 2010.  Football is business, but the business is no longer the football.  A friend of mine at Liverpool Hope University - and die-in-the-wool Aston Villa and England supporter might I add - aired his views recently on the mechanisms driving football away from it's natural surroundings of achieving success on the pitch to aquiring it through money.

"The days of cup glory are all but dying. Public broadcasters and service stations have diverted their attention elsewhere in the last few years. Club defying moments are paled in comparison to the all conquering Premier League. Is it so far from the truth that a 'Top 4' finish is more important than a trophy in the cabinet? From the dawning of football, weren’t bragging rights intended to be about winning things?

Due respect to Alex Ferguson etc about their constant branding of the cup competitions, but I wonder whether they do have alternative motives. We can all admit that 10 years ago hectic Premier League schedules were cast aside for a shot of silverware glory.  These days the League Cup and FA Cup have become an inconvenience to top sides and an excuse to “blood” their young talent.  ITV will continually crave the public’s respect by airing apparently uninteresting ties, but at what point will this commercially dependent channel decided to discuss their future purchases of domestic silverware, especially when they acquired the rights to the champions league a few years back.

The ITV's acquisition of the FA Cup probably reflects indefinitely their target demographic, but at what point will the interest become insignificant. This year (2010) Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have fallen to lower placed teams. Upsets like this do cause uncontrollable fantasies amongst football fans, however, when the bigger teams leave the competition the coverage disintegrates and attention is drawn back toward other sports on FA Cup weekend.  Foreign sport star such as Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Tiger Woods have praised the presence on the FA Cup as a pivotal part of their childhood.

Is a re-branding close to the cards?  All compliant football fans would wish not, however, look how the Super-Bowl was advertised and branded... can we honestly admit that the same would have been done for the Portsmouth vs. Cardiff City final in 2008? I can imagine most wholehearted football fans would wince at the sight of an advert during an injury break, but without commercial investment, how much longer will domestic silverware continue?"

Definately food for thought.  Premier League and FA chiefs take note.  Cheers Shep!

Jack Shephard is the frontman of Indie-Rock band the Dead Electrics based in the North-West of England. You can catch them on Facebook and MySpace.

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