Reduced prices, low attendance, rotated teams and disinterest from broadcasters. Like sprouts at Christmas, the League Cup happens... yet no-one really knows why. The FA Cup is little better.
Viewing figures for the FA Cup Final in May peaked at 9.2M. The romance of the cup is a little more erotic than your average episode of Strictly. If you’re not in it, does anyone care?
The FA Cup and League Cup used to resonate their own position in the game. The former just as prized as the Football League Championship trophy itself. But, with money having its effect on the sport like so many others, how trophies resonate is replaced by a mere categorisation of importance. To be an actual winner of a domestic trophy is now irrelevant to what was once thought as a decent finish. Top 4 is everything.
Champions League involvement gives you the money, the best players and thus continued qualification. The rules of qualification stifle the domestic scene and the resulting elite carry-on regardless. In fact, qualification is so pivotal for a continuation of their dominance that, in 2005 it was arguably more important for Liverpool to qualify for the following season than it was to win the trophy itself.
Another benefit is it can give you clout to get the rules changed.
My suggestion? Pull the carpet from under the money clubs and give Champions League spots to domestic cup winners. It will break the glass ceiling of a two-tier Premier League and let the cups resonate once again.
Is there a problem? The ruling bodies may say there is no appetite for this, that it’s best for English football that we have our strongest representatives in Europe.
No. The same teams qualifying each year means it's best for them, not English football. And why should a European competition take precedence to the detriment of the domestic game?
The effect of this cup-wining lottery of qualification is that the top players will no longer know which teams they should or should not play for. When you go back to the days of two Champions League spots, Asprilla and Ginola signed for Newcastle; Ravenelli and Juninho for Middlesboro; Bergkamp for Arsenal; Zola and Vialli for a small club in West London. All signings that represented an aspiration to help a club succeed, not piggy-back on automatic success that reaped trophies with or without them. Those elite clubs in their ivory towers will be cast into the new and tragic surroundings of parity!
If you’re not already sold, one thing would remain a constant – the Champions of England would always qualify for the Champions League. And if our domestic league and cups benefit by the spoils of Europe going to real winners, not the richest losers, why should this not happen?
(There is of course a matter of that final 4th Champions League berth up for grabs. I like the idea of a three-match post-season play-off in Asia for the four highest placed teams who haven’t already qualified. This could go down as far as 7th, and perchance put those 39th league game rumours to bed.)
Reader Comments (25)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 26/09/2014 at 08:00:13
2 Posted 26/09/2014 at 10:49:39
It's a bit like George Osbourne spreading the wealth, it's just not going to happen!
3 Posted 26/09/2014 at 11:39:43
4 Posted 26/09/2014 at 11:50:59
I think the league qualification process is the most fair, because it rewards teams for their progress across a season. What would happen to league football if first and second only mattered for CL qualification? We'd get better cup football for sure, but the lifeblood of the top flight: the league, would suffer as a result.
Who would get Europa League? We'd be in a position, under this scenario, where a cup final could determine CL places and Europa League places for teams not necessarily involved in that final.
Football's not fair, but giving CL places to domestic cup winners would ruin the league. We'd go from resting players against Swansea in the cup, to resting players in the league, because the cup matches are now more important.
If we want to make the cup games more attractive then divert additional prize money to the competitions, especially the Capital One Cup. Again though, it would not change things. The biggest teams with the biggest squads are best equipped to challenge on all fronts, and giving them a reason to put out better teams in the Capital One Cup will simply give less of a chance to the rest.
5 Posted 26/09/2014 at 12:01:20
I fear though that if this did happen, all it would mean is the bigger clubs would take more of an interest in both domestic cups, and through amazing coincidences, they’d keep apart from each other until the semi-finals (which would be a shot in the arm for the dwindling TV audiences and sponsor cash).
6 Posted 26/09/2014 at 12:13:55
As for it not helping England's national teams chances of success, all I can say is what success is that?
7 Posted 26/09/2014 at 12:11:03
All the aforementioned players signed for their clubs with hearts full of the purest altruism, and their professional pride piqued by the thought of pushing underperforming clubs to the Premier League pinnacle? Their pockets be damned?
Ravenelli, for example, rejected Everton after previously signing for 'Boro, not because Howard's breath stunk of Bacardi a bit too early that morning or because he bought into 'Pop' Robson's project. Nope. It was simply because they were prepared to stuff a shitload of fazoos into fat Luca Brazi's (massive mammoth sized) waistband, and Everton subsequently failed to measure up.
The main criteria in a player making a move is the amount of cash a club is prepared to cough up. Always has been, always will be. Look at Man Utd, no European football on offer at all, no chance of challenging for the Premier League this season, yet still able to recruit world class players of pedigree like Di Maria and Falcao in the summer, simply because they were still able to wave an astronomical wad in their agents' faces.
8 Posted 26/09/2014 at 12:50:02
For sure if the allocation for English clubs was to drop to 3, it would weaken the price of the TV rights, and UEFA wouldn't want that at all.
9 Posted 26/09/2014 at 15:34:11
10 Posted 26/09/2014 at 15:56:21
Football has changed. Top 4 is the big one these days...... with no farcical play-off for 4th place thank you very much. Yes, it heavily favours the money boys but that's what makes it so exciting for a club like Everton.
11 Posted 26/09/2014 at 18:09:48
The value of the cup would mean it being taking seriously by every club. It would be our best chance of making some money. I recall listening to the draw on Monday at lunchtime knowing that the season might hinge on it. I find the Champions League without personal involvement as dull as ditch water. Let's have a cup that counts.
12 Posted 26/09/2014 at 18:49:43
13 Posted 26/09/2014 at 21:06:21
If it's more important to be in it again next year than to win it, you can see something's wrong. Can you imagine the equivalent situation in the FA cup? No. It's absurd. Unfortunately I can't see it changing. Nice if it would. Would our board even vote for it?
14 Posted 26/09/2014 at 23:01:31
Same old teams every year winning the cups , So no trophies at all for the rest.
15 Posted 27/09/2014 at 00:52:10
16 Posted 27/09/2014 at 01:23:10
17 Posted 27/09/2014 at 11:47:24
I am with you Nick that something needs to be done to break the glass ceiling. Something also has to be done with the draws too BVD vs. Arsenal every year it seems. AC Milan vs. Barca, City vs. Bayern and United always getting a cream puff draw when they're in it.
18 Posted 27/09/2014 at 19:09:19
19 Posted 28/09/2014 at 08:48:56
Put it this way: if you're in a cycle race and the top 4 of each race can put an engine on their bike, who's going to finish top 4 in the next race? It is not coincidence that 52 out of 54 top 4 places have gone to the same teams.
And on the hypothetical reduction to three teams, is that really a concern? Is that tournament so much a concern that we should protect the dominance of five teams and not our domestic game that has lost its soul and the league title is a shut-out?
If you want to give greater prize money to the cups to make them important, the only way is to have that money come from the CL.
John, yes Ravanelli took the cash, and that has to be factored into practically every transfer going, but it remained they had to help a team succeed to get a prize. Today, those players wouldn't come to those clubs because they're non-CL, and its because of the CL that these teams can't compete on wages.
Would the cups always go to the big teams? If people are offering that as reason to not change anything, then isn't it admitting defeat?
Without guaranteed CL and FFP rules hitting, a level of parity can be restored to football whereas the CL is just a golden goose for five teams who have taken competition out of the game.
20 Posted 28/09/2014 at 09:31:00
Isn't that what happens now? ... and most don't take it seriously anyway.
21 Posted 28/09/2014 at 10:03:34
I've been saying for years (ever since the Bosman ruling) football is heading for a cataclysmic collapse similar to the crash of 1929. The game is rotten to the core, it is top heavy, ruled by corrupt men in Switzerland who's shortsightedness is akin to that of Neville Chamberlain's in 1938.
The game is run by a criminal gang similar to to the American mafia and its five families. They aren't interested in reform or spreading the wealth. They want to keep power and power alone.
22 Posted 28/09/2014 at 12:59:13
As for corrupt governing bodies, what has the FA got on Uefa whereby Wembley got two CL finals in a row and now two semis and the final in the Euros 2020? Something is going on, I'm sure...
23 Posted 28/09/2014 at 13:31:14
Former powerhouses like Everton, Aston Villa, Wolves, Leeds Utd, Sheffield Wed even Spurs don't have a chance to break into this exclusive club unless some billionaire comes along which with FFP makes it increasingly unlikely.
I love football but I hate all the sordid baggage attached to the modern game.
24 Posted 28/09/2014 at 13:45:27
I'd go further and get rid of all this group nonsense in the European cups, but then football these days is about overloaded manufactured excitement, rather than the real thing.
25 Posted 28/09/2014 at 13:55:56
As a return to that isn't going to happen, I'd prefer to see one large European knock out tournament. 7 English teams would go into the hat. All games unseeded and excitement throughout. Plus, the 'smaller' nations' champions not pissed on and demoted to no more than a Europa preliminary.
That's midweek European football I would watch. Well actually I wouldn't as CL is on BT next year.
At least in our own small way watching games via links on t'internet is two fingers up to the powers that be. Take that governing bodies! Oh what, you're too busy setting the time on your 㾼,000 watches? Fair enough.
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.