“We’re gonna win The Cup …. We’re gonna win The Cup …. and now you’re gonna believe us …. and now you’re gonna believe us ….. We’re gonna win The Cup”
What true football fan hasn’t sung that song dreaming and hoping that it would come true ?
As we enter Semi-Final weekend read here why The Cup might never be the same ever again.
When Everton had their ticket allocation for the 6th Round Cup game against Arsenal reduced back in March it became clear that both Everton and The FA were pretty impotent in trying to gain the full 15% allocation of tickets. This was an experience that both Liverpool and Spurs had endured previously but curiously not Coventry.
An EFCSA meeting with the FA confirmed what we all feared that despite the competition rules dictating that away teams should enjoy a 15% allocation of capacity the FA could not enforce this rule. Much has been said about whether the FA couldn’t or wouldn’t enforce the rule but the facts are that the locally licensing authority (Islington Council in this case) has the final decision. Of course the most significant input to the decision maker (actually the Safety Advisory Group) is the football club with all the vested interest accusations that can, and have, ensued.
As can be seen from our recent post ( http://www.efcsa.org/2014/04/04/meeting-football-association-april-2nd/ ) the FA has been very approachable about this issue and Everton Football Club has been wholly transparent in their opinions both publicly and privately. Sadly, despite many assurances, Arsenal in the guise of their CEO has yet to reply to the letter the Association sent on February 20th and so we don’t know their opinion on the matter.
The Cup is adored by football fans the world over and yet in recent times it has been treated with a lack of respect by some managers, or is that football clubs? The huge financial incentives associated with the Premier League and Champions League mean that The Cup is in danger of going the same way as the Football League Cup and becoming little more than a distraction for clubs in the top flight.
The Association became aware of a desire by the “big clubs” to dilute the charm of The Cup and address the challenges of away match ticket allocations by reducing them! We understood that some clubs would raise a discussion point at a Premier League Meeting to have the away team allocation reduced from 15% to 10% and bring it in to line with the other domestic competitions operated by the Premier League and the Football League. It also appears that many clubs (Arsenal?) find satisfying the current allocation problematic and ‘inconvenient’ as all their systems and processes are set-up for the lower allocation.
We brought this to the attention of Everton and Robert Elstone who made it very clear that this was not something that our club would support. Indeed when the matter was brought up in the subsequent Premier League meeting Mr Elstone led a minority of clubs in opposing such a change, a position that has been reported in the local media by Liverpool Echo sports journalist Gregg O’Keeffe (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/robert-elstone-well-fight-tickets-6941068). What’s not clear is how successful he was and if, and one fears it is when, such a change will be made. What we do know is that this matter will be discussed at the end of the season by the FA Cup Committee.
Furthermore the Association understands that these same “big clubs” also want to eliminate replays from the competition with all games being settled at the first time of asking with extra-time and penalties if needs must. Apparently the reasoning behind this proposal is primarily fixture congestion and the UEFA rule about games being played in proximity to the Champions League.
Finally, one rule change that will take place next season is that only the winners of The Cup will gain a place in the Europa League. If the winners have qualified for the Europa League or indeed the Champions League via league placing then an ‘extra’ place will be made available based on league position as is currently the situation with the League Cup
So, maybe the apprently parochial activities of Arsenal are part of an erosion of the most famous cup competition in the world, indeed throughout this article I’ve referred to it as The Cup as no further explanation is necessary.
Football is nothing without fans and so maybe, for once, football clubs and governing bodies could think of us first, it’s not a lot to ask is it ?