The magic and money of the FA cup

Jan 11, 2016

Bournemouth shaking hands

There is still magic in the FA Cup for the fans and players of lower league clubs. Just watch Timmy Mallett’s reaction to Oxford’s win over Swansea if you are not sure of that. There is money in the FA Cup too, which can be a game changer for lower league clubs.

In 2005, Exeter’s third round tie and replay with Manchester United helped it keep going. Their games against Liverpool this year will also be a great boost to their financial position.  Several times during the TV commentary of their game on Friday evening, a commentator said that a draw might be better than a win for them because of all the money they’d get from a replay at Anfield.

For the top Premier League clubs, FA prize money is much less than the amount that can be earned in the Champions League and Premier League. A comparison of prize money said that last season, “Arsenal earned £13.3m and £64m in TV money from the Champions League and Premier League respectively …In contrast, the Gunners pocketed just £4.3m from their FA Cup run – 1.2 per cent of their £344.5m turnover for the season.” There’s a tendency for fans to feel that money is all important and that surviving in or getting into the Premier League has to be the main aim for their clubs. So the FA Cup seems less important.

The low attendance, 13,140, at Birmingham City’s game against Bournemouth on Saturday seems to indicate that some of our fans don’t value the Cup. But the magic has not faded for some of us; I still love it.  That’s because I believe that football is about more than money or success. I agree with Brian Lomax, the founding father of supporter activism who said,

“I believe there are certain very important values in life and that football support embodies them, … There is a sense of pilgrimage, of going to a sacred place; there is loyalty, sticking with something through good and bad times.”

That’s why I go to football games and why I belong to Blues Trust.

Margaret Decker

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