The greed of Premier League clubs and the lack of consideration for those in the lower leagues is slowly becoming too much for supporters of smaller teams, especially when the topflight big boys begin to disrespect the traditions of the FA Cup, our competition, the people’s cup.
Most recently we have seen Liverpool’s under-23s squad play out their FA Cup replay with Shrewsbury Town, while the first team squad, set to win the Premier League title, enjoy the newly introduced ‘winter break’. The big talking point came when Jurgen Klopp blurted out he would not manage the first team fixture, leaving it to under-23s coach Neil Critchley to lead the team.
Klopp lost a degree of respect here from many in the football world, who felt he was wrong not being there himself. This not only showed a lack of respect for an age-old competition, he was also showing a lack of care towards his future stars, plying their trade in Liverpool’s Under 23’s squad, by not being on the touchline providing vital guidance.
The reality, however, is that weakened sides in the FA Cup is now the norm for Premier League outfits that are battling against relegation or travelling to Europe in midweek. This has only brought more debate into the public eye. Should FA Cup replays be scrapped?
For clubs in the lower leagues and non-league the extra revenue that the FA Cup and the competitions replays create is crucial. Many supporters would rather lose a replay at Old Trafford, than beating Manchester United on their own patch before being knocked out in the next round, without having the experience of going to the home of footballing giants to watch their side.
It seems to be that those wanting FA Cup replays to be scrapped are those connected with Premier League clubs and consequently don’t see the magic of the Cup and the impact it has on smaller teams. Instead, they are blinded by the pound signs of the Champions League and Premier League.
Gary Lineker was very vocal on the matter, suggesting the competition should begin earlier in the season. This again showed the stark ignorance of the elites for the common footballer as many non-league clubs kick off their campaigns with an FA Cup tie and play more games over the course of the season than Premier League players, all while balancing a full-time job.