The English FA Cup – Is It A Declining Competition?

The FA Cup Trophy

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What’s happened to our beloved English FA Cup? The days where the FA Cup was a competition to win in its own right, the days you draw against your rivals and both teams look at the fixture as if it’s already the final, I feel is slightly dying away.


We need to get the competition back to a point where teams from top to bottom want to win it from the start and not only taking it seriously when they reach the latter stages of the competition.


If a manager won the Premier League or Champions league would he be sacked without starting as manager the following season? Highly doubt it right? Well, that exact thing happened with Luis Van Gaal in 2016 when in charge of Manchester United. He won the FA Cup and came 5th in the Premier League and was sacked at the end of the season. This shows that the FA Cup on its own is not significant enough for the bigger clubs.


With the cup winners only receiving £3.6m in prize money and runners up getting £1.8m to put this into context, a team that finishes 20th in the premier league still goes home with 1.9m for their position.English fa cup


I feel a lot of teams are starting to see the FA Cup as an ‘addition’ to anything they achieve. For example, winning the Premier League is a great season. Premier League along with an FA Cup means you’ve done the double, which adds so much more muscle. With football increasingly becoming about money the FA Cup doesn’t offer much incentive in that department which is making the competition slowly becoming more for the lesser teams. Let’s break it down from a club level perspective…


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Teams Aiming For Champions League Qualification 

The teams that are aiming to win the league or aiming for a Champions League qualification are usually in and around the positions. So what do you get for winning an FA Cup? Some silverware, a place in the Europa League, and £3.6m in prize money.


So, really the only incentive for this kind of team is the silverware (which yes should be enough) but in the modern game, it doesn’t seem that way. I’m sure the managers of these top clubs will say they take it seriously from the start but do you believe that? Because I don’t.


These teams often play their youngsters or a very weakened side in the opening stages of the competition, how often do you see a manager play a weakened side in the premier league or champions league? If they do it usually down to injuries or fatigue but rarely just to give players game time.


Mid-Table Teams & Europa League Qualification

The mid-table teams can be anywhere from 6th down to 12th. all these teams will think they have a chance of securing a Europa League qualification so, winning the fa cup is a great way for them to secure that, plus the silverware an FA Cup in the trophy cabinet is a great achievement for any team but a realistic chance at some silverware that holds weight.


Money wise, again, it isn’t an amount for these teams to get excited about in a congested season, you wouldn’t see these teams play a weaker side to the point squad players and youngsters outnumber their first-teamers, which says a lot about how the top 12 clubs see the FA Cup in the modern-day game.

The Fa Cup is a declining competition, what can be done to get it back to how it used to be? Click To Tweet

Lower Teams 

Now, the lower teams nearer the bottom of the premier league are the teams who take this competition a lot more seriously from the get-go. This is the attitude we need to get back for all of the premier league clubs.


The FA Cup is seen as major silverware for these teams, and an entry into the Europa league would benefit the club financially.  The prize money might be a big help towards their transfer kitty, wage budgets, or other club investments. The added extras you get for winning the competition are all of high interest for the teams nearer the bottom and not to forget for all the teams in the lower leagues.


FA Cup Is Still a Great Competition

The FA Cup still gives a lot to the English game and is far from boring. You get major upsets from lower league teams beating teams in higher leagues and the best teams don’t always win the competition. As we’ve seen with Wigan Athletic, they won the FA Cup and got relegated from the Premier League in the same season.fa cup celebrations



Lower league teams get the chance to play against football players they looked up to and stadiums they always dreamed of playing in, which are magical moments.

These are the kind of dynamic things the FA Cup involves, it is a very unpredictable and unique competition.


The Fa Cup is a declining competition, what can be done to get it back to how it used to be? Click To Tweet


Increase The Prize Money

So, what can be done to revitalize the FA Cup so that it is appealing to teams nearer the top of the premier league as it is the teams nearer the bottom and lower leagues?


I feel we need to steer away from dishing out lump sums of money as it’s ruining the game. Saying that, I have to mention it as an option whether I agree with it or not.


If large amounts of money is going to be circulating around football, then it should be given for winning trophies if anything! I think one suggestion could be to increase the prize fund. Money is one thing that could change the approach of all clubs. If the kitty was a substantial amount it could prove to be a turning point for the competition.

Offer Champions League Qualification For The Winners

Offering a Champions League qualification in reward of winning the FA Cup would certainly have teams making it more of a priority. Just being involved in the Champions League is almost seen as a trophy in the modern game, if you ask them, a lot of teams would rather finish in the top four positions that win an FA Cup. Silverware should always be the first choice but the fact is a Champions League position provides a lot more revenue it brings to the club in which is good resources for the club to build or invest.


english fa cup final

The Engish FA Cup is part of our football tradition and for this reason alone, I think it should become a competition that all teams involved take seriously from the jump. This will then be reciprocated by the fans filling out the stadiums on Fa Cup games.


I do think over the years the Cup is being perceived less and less like a priority and the games do not seem as competitive. I’ve suggested a couple of adjustments that could be made to bring the FA Cup back to what it once was but what your thoughts and ideas on what could be changed?


If you have enjoyed this post please give it a share 🙂 Let’s get the FA Cup back to what it once was!

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2 thoughts on “The English FA Cup – Is It A Declining Competition?

  1. Hi, Kurtes,

    As a football fan myself, I understand your frustration. Something similar happens in my country. Football has become more about money than the sport itself. I cannot generalize and say that all football players are there for the money, but many of them are. It’s all about the money. We want players to do their best, to play with passion, but I understand it’s a business at the end of the day.

    I’m not sure if it’s possible to solve this situation, but something needs to be done, not only in the UK, but all over the world. Fingers crossed!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Enrique, yes, I completely agree! It’s sad what’s happening to the beautiful game. Interesting to hear it’s similar in your country. If it’s a global thing then 100% something needs to be done but as you said, football is a business now so I guess money comes first.

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