2011/12: FA Cup Final – Is it this weekend?
In a week in which so much has happened in the football world, the FA Cup Final seems to be upon us with a ‘whimper’ rather than a ‘bang’. Some of this is down to the fact that the Final will take place with two weeks of Premier League fixtures still to go and of course it was a week which started on Monday with the hysterical hype that was the Manchester ‘derby’ and was followed on the Tuesday by the appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager. Against this background the FA Cup Final has been overshadowed. The FA has to take a great deal of blame for this. Why for instance did the announcement around the new England manager have to be this week? Surely it could have been done last week, or what harm would ther have been in waiting till after the Final?
For me, The FA has to have some ‘balls’ and show that it believes that the Cup has not lost its magic and back this up with actions in the future. The Final should only be played once the domestic League season has been completed in England and thus allows for a proper week of build-up and preparation for the Finalist, fans and media alike. Instead this weekend, we have ludicrous decision of having a 5.15pm kick-off at Wembley sandwiched between the closing fixtures in League One and Two on Saturday and those on Sunday when the Premier League (with all its bloated and self-anointed ego) once again demands centre stage. It gives the appearance and feel that the FA Cup is reduced to that of an old relative stuck in the corner and tolerated by the rest of the family for a day, before being wheeled back to the nursing home. If The FA truly cares about the World’s Oldest Cup competition it has to change the way it is handled in the future. It can make all the excuses it likes about the impact of the Olympics and the European Championships later this year on the scheduling of the Final, but until The FA shows faith in its showpiece occasion, how can it expect clubs, fans and the media to do the same?