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FA Cup back on Centre Stage? Money Talks Again.

By Peter Hall :  16/02/2009 :  Comments (0) :
Even before the millenium competition when holders Manchester United declined to enter, the FA Cup had been falling down the pecking order of great sporting events, eclipsed by the success of the Premier League.

But this year I have heard much less about the top clubs playing weakened teams, and a lot more excitement and determination to succeed. Is it just my own bias because we are having a good run at last, I wondered? Looking at the wider press coverage I thought no, there is a real sense of the ‘glory of the cup’ in their pages.

Trying to find an answer, I strayed onto the FA website, and found that, especially in these credit-crunch days, money is the answer. The FA has greatly increased the prize money in this year’s competition, and the television money has gone up too.

Our run so far has been worth £375k (prize) and £5150 (tv). Last year it would have been worth (had we managed it!) £220k (prize) plus £100k - £300k depending on matches selected for live transmission.

But the biggest jump comes in the later rounds. When we beat (COYB) Middlesborough or WHU we will get £400k (prize) plus £275k assuming the game is shown live which it surely will be. For the Wembley matches prize and tv are bundled. Semi-final losers get £500k (this is really gained by our sixth-round victory) while winners get £1M. And the cup winners get £2M while the defeated finalists get £1M.

So winning the Cup is worth £4.2M in direct payments from the FA (2008 approx £2.7M), while as beaten finalists we would have picked up £3.2M (2008 £1.8M). This takes no account of gate receipts (are there any to the clubs for the Wembley matches?).

I realise this wouldn’t go far to restore Mr. Abramovich’s recent losses, but for a self-financed club whose turnover is around £75M it is not to be sneezed at as a more than handy bonus.

I guess the FA has seen its flagship event declining and has responded in the only language that talks to top football clubs nowadays — money.

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