The FA Cup format is to be somewhat copied by the A-League in a bid to capture the minds, hearts and hip-pockets in an ultra-competitive football market. The somewhat unimaginatively titled FFA cup is expected to kick-off in January of 2012. But can it replicate the history and mystique of the FA Cup or will it merely be another blip in what is fast becoming a crowded radar of FFA miscalculations?
The FA Cup is arguably the most famous football final in the world. The first FA Cup competition was held in 1871-72 and had fifteen entries (1). This season will see Manchester City playing Stoke City on May 14 at Wembley Stadium. One of the two teams will win their first major trophy since the 1970's. Millions from all over the world, across multiple time-slots, televisions, pay television and Internet sites will watch the match at home, in pubs and at the game itself. It has captured the imagination of people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds across the globe.
Why has the FFA decided to adopt an FFA Cup?
After six seasons of the A-League two teams have disbanded, there has been multiple club owners, and the FFA has changed season dates to combat the might of the AFL and to a lesser extent the NRL. An FFA cup will see teams from all over the country contest the competition in a move that football fans of all levels in Australia have been asking for since the inception of the A-League. The FFA could be seen to be placating fans of the game as well as building a platform for state clubs to be a vital part of the national competition.
The format of the cup is yet to be released by the FFA but is expected to follow a similar qualifying path to Victoria's recently founded Mirabella Cup.
The state teams who participate may derive much needed revenue from staging the cup matches. SBS's Daniel Phan (2) reported that, "That means state league venues will welcome visiting A-League sides and are expected to yield gate revenue and generate publicity for clubs that would otherwise struggle to draw media attention and substantial crowd numbers regularly." This may generate much needed revenue to state clubs that will also benefit the future of the game at the grassroots level.
The FFA will also compensate state league clubs with their travel expenses. The FFA Cup will not be a cheap competition to run but the short term cost could be just the boost that Australian football needs.
Granted, it may take a minnow to beat one of the A-League teams to capture the media and public attention but even this attention may be negative if people focus on the A-League team's loss instead of one of the State team league's win. If the FFA cup runs smoothly, then along with the regular season and ACL participation the A-League is adding layers of texture that the Australian football public has been demanding. Let's hope that the cup is talked about for years to come!
What do you think of the FFA Cup? Would you attend a game?
(1) History of the FA Cup:
(2) Phan, Daniel, Positive signs for the FFA Cup:
By Paul Fredrerickson
By Paul Fredrerickson