Monday, January 4, 2010

Has The Cup Lost It's Magic?

This weekend saw the FA Cup's Third Round take place and many of the match reports mention the dwindling stadium attendances and the disappearance of the magic which the Cup used to possess.

The Third Round is normally a big day for a football fan as the famous competition finally introduces the big boys and is the stage where famous giant killings are staged. We saw one this weekend when League One's Leeds United beat Premier League Champions Manchester United at Old Trafford which produced the type of magic and excitement we have come to expect from the competition. But some of the attendances around the country suggest that for many fans, going to the FA Cup isn't that important any more.

The weekend saw ten Premier League teams at home and just two of those (Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur) saw their attendances go above their average season attendance. That means Chelsea, Everton, West Ham (who faced Arsenal), Aston Villa (who faced Blackburn), Sunderland, Fulham, Portsmouth and Wigan all saw their attendances for the FA Cup fall below their season average. Wigan who entertained Hull, in an all Premier League tie, had a gate of just 5,335 which was only beaten by Torquay's home match with Brighton which had a crowd of 4,028.

The falling attendances make it clear that the FA Cup perhaps doesn't mean what it used to, but I think its not just a case of fans falling out of love with the cup. The average season attendances are made up mainly of season ticket holders whom are expected to then pay extra for the cup matches on top of the few hundred quid they pay at the start of the season. And another key fact here is that for many clubs, cup tickets aren't cheap, for example West Ham were charging between £28 and £40.50 for season ticket holders for their home tie against Arsenal and then people wonder why they only attracted 25,549 fans for the tie of the round (5,200 of which were Arsenal fans!)

The ticket prices coupled with managers fielding weaker sides to save their their best eleven for league ties makes the FA Cup a lot less glamorous. Realistically, who is that happy about paying upwards of £30 for to see their sides reserves? Fans are clearly falling out of love with the most prestigious trophy in domestic football and it's time the FA worked with the clubs to make sure the fans come first and the trophy gets the attendances and treatment it deserves.


  1. Very good blog - good mixture of WINOL and laaw and some of your own writing. Well done - excellent work all this term with the sports stuff - we reached a high standard with that and got fair amount of traffic.

  2. It will be great to watch Tottenham Hotspur, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.