The People’s Cup?

Last season, the FA took great delight in announcing their ‘People’s FA Cup’ competition as part of their ‘Get Inspired’ campaign. FA Chairman Greg Dyke claimed that “Football is everybody’s game and The FA People’s Cup embodies that ethos.” And so it did; what a great day out. Even if I did lose my runner only to watch him slot in the winner in the Quarter-Final.

On Monday, the FA Cup First Round draw, the most magical of competitions, pitted FC United of Manchester at home to Chesterfield. On Wednesday, the day of writing, FC United of Manchester had to release a statement about the tie. At the heart of the statement were two things;

  • The game being put to Monday evening due to it being selected for TV.
  • The competitions rules that states the minimum price for an adult ticket must be £10.

FC United, for those of you who don’t know, are a club born out of the Glazer take over of Manchester United in 2005. They are community owned and democratically run by those owners.

The official club statement said the club had contacted the FA and “refused to agree with the move of our FA Cup 1st round game against Chesterfield to Monday 9 November 2015.” This refusal came based on the clubs ethos that football is for the fans, “without whom the game would not exist”, and a Monday evening game would impact a number of m supporters, of both clubs, to attend. 

Astonishingly, the FA replied and due to ‘FA Cup competition rules’ the game, the FA insist, must be played on the Monday evening. What ‘rules’ might be being applied here? 

Section 4, sub-section b, paragraph 3.

As soon as TV decides who it wants to put on TV the FA must bend over backwards to accommodate them over the fans the game truly matters to.

I find it outrageous that the FA cannot see that football belongs to the fans. Yes, TV and the money it brings has a role to play in the game, but that role is not dictator to all. But, if a clubs founding ethos says that above all the fans come first, even before the riches of TV, then this, at least, should be respected? The BBC surely can find another game to fill the slot? The FA surely can make a stand and say that yes, the game belongs to the fans and not the TV companies? 

In a game where money means success, it is refreshing to see a club built on such beliefs maintain those beliefs in the face of money. It saddens me to see that the club cannot be backed by its facilitating organisation.

Maybe the People’s FA Cup is exactly that; just for the people. And the FA Cup, excuse me, The Emirates FA Cup, isn’t…

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