An example of someone complaining about the FA Cup losing its magic:
“The football world these days, like everything else, is governed by money and as such, the Champions League is the Holy Grail as opposed to the oldest, and most famous, competition in the world. Consequently, the big clubs now field weaker teams, subtracting a little magic from it. Semi-finals are played at Wembley, minimising the impact of the Final.”
First: The FA Cup is in no way the most famous competition in the world. I mean, no way. Not a chance. Little things like the World Cup, the Champions League and even our very own Premiership are probably slightly better known…
Second: The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world, but the oldest team sport in the world isn’t even played any more (unfortunately, after looking at that link). Age is no proof of quality.
Third: Holding the semi-finals at Wembley is a sensationally good move. Of the eight semi-finals to be held there, only one has had less than 80’000 spectators. And remember, these games include fixtures like Barnsley vs Cardiff (which, when played in the 10/11 Championship had just over 11’000 attendees) and Bolton vs Stoke (at Wembley 75’000, at the Reebok Stadium 20’000). For all that the semi-finals at Villa Park were lovely, they can’t hold anywhere near that amount of supporters. More people get to watch, end of story.
Fourth: The FA Cup is always held up to be this paragon of British footballing virtue, but it, as much as any other competition, is in thrall to money. Are all the games scheduled for 3 pm on a Saturday? Are they fuck. The TV rights to the Cup are sold, just like any competition. And this addiction to money is hardly a recent development, it’s been sponsored on-and-off since 1994. Although you never hear pundits referring to “The E.ON sponsored FA Cup” in the same manner as the almost ubiquitous “Barclays Premier League”.
Fifth: The Champions League is better. It has more interesting teams and games that we don’t already see played out twice in the league anyway, which is more than enough for Wigan vs Wolves, Bolton vs Blackburn and any fixture involving Stoke.
To conclude, the FA Cup has either always been as great as this, or has slightly improved. Whatever, I’m off to watch the Copa del Rey, a real cup competition.