All posts tagged 'FA-Cup'

Does the FA Cup need a facelift?

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, February 15 2011


APPARENTLY the FA Cup needs a revamp.

A think-tank in the Football Association have been looking at ways to glam up the competition in a bid to boost attendances.

But is the cup really dying on its knees as some would have us believe?

Gillingham fans enjoy the FA Cup game against Aston Villa at Priestfield

Yes attendances have dropped slightly, but on average the great competition is still drawing in the crowds, and this season there seems to have been no shortage of headline-grabbing ties.

None more so than the one in the next round which pits non-league Crawley with 11-time winners Manchester United.

Last season’s average gate in the competition was 12,480, down by around 500 on the year before. But in a time when jobs are being slashed and wages cut is it any surprise the attendances are dropped?

Perhaps if clubs offered more incentives and cheaper prices for FA cup matches they would entice those extra people in through the turnstiles.

Rumours have emerged this week of a few ideas that have been bounced around in the FA H.Q, some which tear into the heart of what many believe to be the greatest cup competition in the world.

The seeding of teams would increase the likelihood of a big team vs. little team match-up, replays could be scrapped (taking away what for some clubs can be money-spinning ties), matches could be played midweek and the final moved to an early-evening kick-off, instead of the traditional 3pm.

If the FA think these plans will increase the excitement of the FA Cup they are living in cloud cookoo land.

For the smaller clubs the FA Cup can be a financial lifeline, just ask Kent League side Hythe Town what is means to them to make it into the first round proper. They have enough cash in the bank now to really push on as a club.

Crawley Town, who aren’t short of a few quid anyway, will travel to Old Trafford for a match that encapsulates the whole idea of the competition.

What gets me is what is so wrong with the competition anyway?

Yes, perhaps there were a few absent fans at Wolves and Bolton in the last round (not helped by less-than-glamorous opposition in Doncaster and Wigan respectively), but on the flip side look at Arsenal.

There was a full house at Highbury as there has been across many grounds in the country.

 The biggest problem is keeping Arsene Wenger and co interested in the competition when they are chasing League and Champions League honours. The competition’s integrity can only be kept if they are made to field competitive teams. We don’t want to see the competition devalued to the extent of the League Cup, which is treated by many top teams as a reserve outing.

Fans will fall away if they are expected to pay top prices for watching the club’s second string players.

Gillingham may have had an FA Cup campaign to forget this season, but the Blues fans certainly won’t want to see this competition devalued by any quick-fix ideas from those in power.

Over 10,000 crammed into Priestfield to watch them give Aston Villa a scare recently and the club’s record attendance of 23,002 against QPR in 1948 was in the FA Cup.

The FA should consider the current financial woes of the average football fan and encourage more teams to offer incentives to fill up their grounds in the short-term, and when we all have a few more quid in our pocket, we will then have a decent competition to keep supporting, instead of one with could be turned into a second-rate event.

Clubs also need to play their part and listen to the fans. The FA Cup is cherished by the majority and the top clubs have a big responsibility to keep it alive. It’s in their hands as much as the FA’s.

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Categories: Football | Gillingham | Sport | FA Cup | Gillingham FC

Time to forgive?

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, October 25 2010

Eighty-two balls in the hat for the FA Cup draw but it always seemed destined that Gillingham would be paired with Dover.

I’m sure Andy Hessenthaler and co had hoped Dover fans would have forgotten what happened in the summer and moved on.

But it appears not.

Dover need no incentive now on Tuesday night to win their FA Cup replay against Farnborough and set up what will be a cracking first round tie at Gillingham.

Whites fans will be hoping Martin Hayes and his team can dish out a bit of revenge after Hessenthaler left Crabble to return to Priestfield.

I don’t think anyone can really blame Hess for leaving, but what appears to still rankle with them is what happened afterwards, particularly the decision of Ian Hendon to leave just weeks after "joining" them as manager.

The problem is that Hendon never signed a deal (despite sitting with Whites chairman Jim Parmenter with pen in hand at a press conference to unveil him as manager!) and weeks later hot-footed it over to Priestfield to link up with Hessenthaler.

Nicky Southall followed and so did Darren Hare but who can blame them?

Dover are a great club and going places but as a professional you’ve got to aim high. Hessy did a good job at Dover and deserved another crack at the Gills job so why the hysteria?

Most managers have a team of trusted people that they keep close to them and that is no different than Hessenthaler. He and Hendon have been close since their Barnet days, and probably before that. Football can be a murky world and so it’s best to have people you can rely on close at hand.

It was a messy situation in the summer without a doubt but, like the Dover chairman said this week, it’s all worked out well in the end and Martin is doing the business so far at Crabble.

I’m sure that if Dover get through to play the Gills those Whites fans will be quick to attack Hess and co, but should they? I don’t think so.

Someone called me naive previously for saying such a thing but that’s football. We all have differing opinions.

I can’t see what is wrong with having ambition in the game and moving onwards and upwards. All Ian Hendon did was weight up his options and choose Gillingham. How it ever got to the stage where there was a press conference to announce him as manager before a deal had been signed is for others to answer.

Good luck to Dover on Tuesday, it’s great to have so much Kent involvement in the cup and congrats to Scott Porter and his Hythe team for making it this far.

Roll on November 6.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gills | Sport

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