Taking the mic: Live and direct from the Royton Riviera

By Jack Dearden

IT is FA Cup football folks – but not quite as we know it, or perhaps even prefer it.The greatest football knockout competition in the world, is changing rapidly and not necessarily for the better in my view.

Why? Because some clubs presumably think they have bigger fish to fry.

Let’s not concern ourselves with the fact that the FA Cup preliminary rounds start in August, with overall participants totalling over 750.

Actually, if you just dig a bit below the surface it is not just leading clubs who are to blame.

You have got to point a finger at the Football Association itself.

Remember when it ‘encouraged’ Manchester United to go and play in a tin pot tournament so unimportant I cannot even remember its name.

Wasn’t the reason United went was to try and garnish a few extra votes in a bid to stage the World Cup? That went well.

The decision to stage FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley was another wrong call for me; simply an FA money making exercise.

The FA even decided to stage the FA Cup final itself while Premier League games were still being played. Talk about belittling your competition.

We also now appear to have spread FA Cup third round matches over five days. Which leads me to another gripe – whose crackpot, brainless idea was it to decide to have the FA Cup draw on TV?

Remember when the third round draw was made on radio at lunchtime. One of the things that work better on radio than television and always will be in my opinion is a cup draw.

I’ve even heard recently that there are calls to scrap fourth round replays. Give me strength.

Let us just draw one team against another, another draw to see who wins all the way through to the final, then just declare who’s won it. Maybe that is where we are heading.

In 1999, it was declared there will be no more FA Cup semi-final replays.

In 2011, Premier League games were played on the same day as the FA Cup final.

Five years later, quarter final replays were scrapped. Last year it was decided fifth round matches were to be played in midweek.

I admit football has moved on and finance has become the all encompassing factor.

But please let us not kill off the most famous football cup competition in the world.

Cup holders Manchester City have been in the news for committing alleged ‘serious breaches’ of Financial Fair Play. City say they will appeal.

When the story broke I was presenting a sports programme for BBC Radio Manchester. I spoke to a leading football finance expert who I asked how realistic is it that UEFA can adequately ‘police’ a club’s finances. ‘Not easily,’was the short answer.

I don’t know if City are guilty of breaking rules. I do know though there is history between the Blues and UEFA .

I am rapidly losing faith with all of football’s governing bodies: EFL, FA, Premier League, UEFA and FIFA.

I have no idea what the ultimate outcome will be. But one thing I do find hard to swallow is UEFA seem to be acting as judge, juror and executioner.

Manchester City will now go the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose decision I am led to believe will be binding.

In 2019, Deloittes ranked City as fifth most profitable club in the world.

It seems they have also recorded five profitable years.

Isn’t the purpose of FFP (Financial Fair Play) set up to prevent/ avoid clubs getting into major debt?
Excellent work by England’s cricketers to clinch the T20 series in South Africa and with an exciting brand of cricket.

Remember in my last column for the Royton Correspondent I suggested doing away with five-day Test matches would be wrong.

Well it seems one of the all-time greatest cricketers agrees.

I can’t say for sure he read my previous column but none other the cricketing legend himself Sir Ian Botham recently said: “The idea of four day Tests is ridiculous.”

While we are at it – several months ago I told you Shaun Wane would be the next coach of England’s Rugby League team and would lead them into next year’s World Cup.

It was confirmed a couple of weeks ago by the RFL.

That is what I said two months ago…!

You can hear me on BBC
Radio Manchester and find me
on Twitter @TheJackDearden

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