FA Cup needs a revamp and introducing Old Firm might be a start

FA Cup needs a revamp and introducing Old Firm might be a start

The goal scorers for Hereford, the non-league team which knocked 1st Division Newcastle United out of the FA Cup in the replay at their Edgar Street ground. On the left is Ron Radford who scored Hereford's 1st and on the right is Ricky George who scored the winning goal in extra time.

JUST when we need a little pick me up with the festive period finishing, unfortunately the return of the FA Cup is on the football calendar this weekend. 

We are all getting back to our normal routine, one that doesn’t involve asking what day of the week it is, and having the FA Cup as our football to look forward to over the weekend rather than the Premier League, just increases those holiday blues.

We are going to hear about the magic of the cup and how the third-round of the competition is the most exciting because it gives smaller clubs the opportunity to play against the very elite. 

Fixtures like tomorrow’s match between Aston Villa against League Two side Stevenage used to be clashes we would look forward to, but such is the gulf in class between the sides, that upsets are very rare. 

In truth, do we really want to see Stevenage progress as it creates the potential of having to watch them play again. 

I’d much rather see Premier League clubs progress to see better quality going forward in the competition rather than a League Two side. 

Some might feel I am being disrespectful to lower league clubs, but as someone who was involved in that level of football for three years and spent a lot of time watching lower-tier games because I often sat on the bench, the quality of football is not an enjoyable spectacle. 

I’d rather more rounds be played in the competition before introducing Premier League sides as to filter out the lack of quality before we are forced to be interested in the FA Cup because of Premier League involvement.

Even though the Premier League clubs are involved this weekend, there is still an insufficient amount of quality on show to get us really excited as the majority of elite clubs view this round of the cup as an opportunity to give some fringe players game time.

Former Leicester City player and BBC pundit Gary Lineker with the FA Cup Trophy before the Emirates FA Cup quarter final match at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Picture date: Sunday March 21, 2021.
Former Leicester City player and BBC pundit Gary Lineker with the FA Cup Trophy before the Emirates FA Cup quarter final match at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Picture date: Sunday March 21, 2021.

No matter how much I hear or read ‘the magic of the cup’ over the next couple of days, I won’t be conned into the notion that the FA Cup is still a trophy of value. 

Perhaps to those outside of the ‘big six’ it might be a trophy worth winning and parading in front of their supporters, but for clubs like Liverpool, do their fans boast that they are the holders of the FA Cup, and would they be to bother to see their side exit the competition early this time round.

The FA Cup is in desperate need of being revamped. Like I have already said, I believe one way of improving it is to introduce Premier League clubs at a later stage, and even allow clubs competing in European competitions extra allowance by giving them further byes in the cup so that they won’t be complaining so much about the added fixtures of competing and might take the competition serious when they are force to participate in the cup.

The idea of awarding the winner of the trophy a Champions League spot instead of the team finishing in fourth in the league has been flirted with, which I admit would increase the motivation of certain clubs in the FA Cup but that could decrease the value of the league, as clubs would then focus on the cup and rest players for league fixtures. 

We don’t want to scrap fourth-place getting a Champions League spot as the race for the fourth has often been what has provided us with entertainment over the last number of years.

The notion of Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers joining the English league is constantly floated around, however it doesn’t seem feasible anytime soon. 

However could it be possible to allow access to the FA Cup for the Old Firm? 

Not just for the benefit of the Scottish clubs but also to help a dying competition. Having Celtic and Rangers involved in the FA Cup would certainly have people talking and would surely rejuvenate supporters' interest. 

It might also help to some degree help settle the debate of whether or not Celtic and Rangers would be good enough for English football.

Of the top clubs, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur will be the most keen to impress in the competition. 

Spurs are without a trophy in 15 years, whereas lifting the FA Cup would relieve some of the pressure on Graham Potter and give him a bit of breathing space to get his feet under the table at Chelsea.

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