Fans’ Forum January – the FA Cup
Fans’s Forum appears each month in Rant Monthly.
James, A Kick in the Grass
Fans and pundits ask why this famous competition has lost its gloss. The answer to that is, sadly, the FA Cup has been ruined by the pursuit of money. Not just by the club’s, but also by the hapless FA. A quick look at the numbers tells us part of the story: United earned £46 million for reaching last year’s Champions League final; in contrast, this year’s FA Cup winner will receive just £1.8m (excluding money from ticket sales). No wonder the FA Cup has lost its shine as far as the clubs’ are concerned.
As far as the fans are concerned, we have been systematically ripped-off by the FA for decades when paying for Cup final tickets. Despite the sky high cost of final tickets there was never any shortage of buyers – not least because the FA have always had an unfair ticket distribution system for the finalists.
But now the situation is in some ways much worse, because we are being fleeced to pay for the rebuilding of Wembley. Gone are the days when FA Cup semi-finals were played at neutral grounds – and that decision was taken for one reason alone – to pay for those scandalous Wembley rebuilding costs. FA Cup semi-finals used to be played at neutral grounds. United fans have many fantastic memories from stadiums such as Villa Park, Hillsborough, Maine Road and Goodison Park. No more, all FA semi-finals are played at the final venue…the new Wembley.
The competition was dealt another major blow when the decision was taken to scrap FA Cup semi-final replays – who will forget the epics with Arsenal in 1999 and before that Liverpool in 1979 and 1985. The FA Cup is no longer the competition it once was, the clubs are partly to blame, but the biggest culprits are the FA themselves. The FA Cup should mean a lot to me, but that simply is no longer true.
James, Written Offside
I started supporting United in the early 80s so the FA Cup became a realistic goal each season bearing in mind the dominance of Liverpool in the league. It will always hold a special place in my heart for a number of reasons. Firstly it was the first trophy I saw United win – the 1983 final against Brighton. I must have watched the game a hundred times or so as I could recall John Motson’s commentary for years afterwards. Subsequent victories in 1985 and then 1990 are also special for a variety of reasons.
The win over Everton due to the never say die spirit exhibited following the ludicrous dismissal of Kevin Moran culminating in Whiteside’s delicious curled effort past Southall and the triumph over Palace due to it kick starting the dominance we have been privileged to experience under the leadership of Alex Ferguson.
The FA Cup also transcends the sport – it is known throughout the world as the oldest cup competition. I have fond memories of the anticipation of the third round draw and the family huddling around the radio to hear who Ipswich (my local team) were drawn against with me secretly wishing they would meet United so I could go to see the mighty Reds up close. In recent years the lack of importance placed in the competition by the bigger clubs has saddened me.
Personally I would like nothing more than to see United lift the trophy once again as it has been too long but with those rich neighbours of ours standing in the way on Sunday, expectation will go on hold for 90 minutes.
Doron, Stretty Rant
The strength and intensity of the Premier League has seen the FA Cup somewhat devalued recently; no longer do the two competitions feel in sync, rather the league is given preferential treatment. I went through a stage of certainly feeling that way, articularly when Chelsea were winning the FA Cup – I saw it as a consolation prize.
Given how much success we’ve had since we last won it, it’s surprising United haven’t done better in the competition. Moreover, the fact we’ve come close and gone out rather controversially a few times simply adds to the desire to win it again. It is a great competition and despite new Wembley’s flaws there’s still something special about being able to sing “Que sera sera…”
It’s been over a decade since United allegedly ruined the FA Cup. Only a few months before we won it (the most times any club ever has) scoring THAT goal on the way. Devaluing it my arse. The FA Cup does mean a lot. We grew up with it as Reds in our DNA. It was what we clung on to in the 80s, 1990 may well have saved Fergie, and many of the victories since have been exceptional. Yes the Champions League is now our preferred cup, and yes that’s changed the relevance of the domestic cups, but not to the extent
some like to make out.
I was on cloud nine when Eric slotted home against Chelsea in 94 (not to mention the Hughes last gasp equaliser in the semi), we all remember his goal two years later, and many of the other matches along the way stand out too. Coming back from two down at Villa; the various semis against Arsenal; trips to random places Northampton, Burton and Exeter; larger allocations of Reds following the team around the country; and of course many of the losses hurt too. Did the FA cup matter when we lost to Leeds? Or when we lost to a Crouch goal at Anfield? Or to Pompey and West Ham at OT? Of course it did, of course we cared.
And, most of all, we will care about the result of our third round. The win would feel as sweet as any other victory against City, but equally a loss will severely sting.