Matt’s Monologue: FA Cup “weekend” decimated

So here we are, FA Cup third round day, one of the most enjoyable days in the footballing calendar.

Well it would be, had the “day” not been decimated by TV coverage and the fact that a number of Premier League teams decided playing on January 3rd would be far too big an ask having had their most recent game 48 hours earlier (of the 20 teams in the Premier League, only four are managing to take to the field today).

There are, therefore, only 17 of 32 matches remaining today, so perhaps the term FA Cup third round week is more apt.

There is also a total of five games which will be shown live on TV.

Granted, I have just said how enjoyable the FA Cup third round is, especially when there are games which you look at with genuine interest and excitement because there is a chance of an upset.

But should so many be moved to Friday, Sunday, Monday or even Tuesday just for the benefit of the television? I am not so sure.

Does this show that the FA Cup is slowly morphing into what the Premier League, where kick-off times are already scattered around the weekend for the benefit of television.

Indeed, top flight football will become a four day event by 2016, as Friday night matches will be shown on the box.

I am a traditionalist. Football should be played on a Saturday afternoon, right? So in the very worst scenario, perhaps the games should be limited to Saturday and Sunday?

The same goes for the FA Cup. At least then you get the sense of it being a weekend of football, instead of four or five days.

This brings me on to my next point about the games which have been selected for live television coverage.

Nobody can begrudge Wimbledon’s hosting Liverpool or Manchester United travelling to Yeovil. These are two games which should be great to watch (although one is on Monday!!). A real David taking on Goliath kind of occasion.

But Everton v West Ham and Arsenal v Hull?

Okay, the latter is a repeat of last year’s final, but these are two matches which you can watch in the Premier League.

I am sure I am not alone when I say I would much prefer to watch the lowest ranked team left in the competition, Blyth, take on Birmingham, rather than an all top-flight tie.

That is where the magic of the cup is at – the lower levels. It is where there is a real chance for a giant-killing. A genuine rank outsider hosting a Championship side who will not feel one bit at home in the non league surroundings.

It would also mean a Northern Premier League minnow getting some hard earned cash – a fantastic reward for an excellent run in the competition.

Instead that money for TV coverage will go to one of the big boys. Perhaps games like these would get bigger television audiences and that is why the have been chosen.

But for me, that is not what the magic of FA Cup third round weekend is all about and there is far less excitement in an all Premier League clash than a game where a lower ranked team get their fifteen minutes of fame.

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