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The Magic of the FA Cup: Gone or still thriving?

There is no doubt that the FA Cup is one of the most competitive, if not the most competitive domestic cup competitions in world football, but is it really the major honour that it once was?

Throughout the last couple of years, TV rights have completely changed the dates and times fixtures are played, especially in England. The Premier League has adapted quite well to the changes, with Friday night football, as well as Monday night football still being watched regularly in the stadiums.

However, the FA Cup has suffered greatly. With games being played throughout the whole week, especially during the competition's earlier rounds, several stadiums ended up being full of empty seats, mainly because fans cannot always make it late at night in midweek, with them often having jobs to go to the next day.

One notable example of the lack of fans going to watch the FA Cup is that of the FA Cup semi-final of 2013 between Wigan and Millwall, where a momentous event where Wigan reached their first ever FA Cup semi-final (and as a result went on to win the whole competition), yet Wigan failed to sell 10,000 of their 22,000 allocation of seats.

Apart from this, the money earned from winning the FA Cup is too little compared to other competitions like the UEFA Champions League, and the Premier League. Teams often prefer to focus on other competitions, and as a result, field teams that are much weaker, which inevitably, lowers the quality of the match. To put this into perspective, teams that are relegated from the Premier League, earn more than the winner of the FA Cup.

To make matters worse, there have not been many surprises when it comes to lower league opposition coming through and progressing through to the latter stages of the competition, with six of the final eight all being Premier League sides. The only two sides that have made it to the quarter finals are Millwall and Swansea City, who are both Championship teams, hence there was not that much of a surprise in their progression.

Yes lower league teams have managed to knock out Premier League opposition this season, most notably West Ham United being knocked out by AFC Wimbledon in the fourth round, but even then the occurrences of such have been too few.

So as long as TV rights continue to shift FA Cup matches to unwanted times, and Premier League sides continue to lower the quality of the matches by playing their below-par players, the FA Cup will only continue to decrease in value and standard.


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