As the most exciting Premier League in years takes a break this weekend to allow for the return of the world’s oldest cup competition, it no longer excites the footballing world like it used to.
It’s sad, but true.
Once upon a time, on an early January Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock, there would be 64 teams kicking off with dreams of making the Cup Final at the forefront of their minds.
However, thanks to football moving into the modern era, tradition has been left firmly in the past.
This year’s third round featured teams playing from Friday night through until Tuesday for TV purposes. And it is TV that has both brought the FA Cup into the world’s eye and simultaneously killed it.
The FA Cup used to be one weekend of pure drama, with lower league clubs going above and beyond their perceived ability to cause a famous giant killing.
But thanks to TV deals and the incredible amount of money in the game, that doesn’t happen anymore.
The pick of the games will be moved to a Friday or Sunday slot to accomodate BBC and BT Sport (which plenty of people don’t even have access to) while the rest of the clashes retain some sense of tradition on a Saturday afternoon, although receive a fraction of the attention.
I know I keep banging on about traditions but in England, that’s what we love.
That’s why everyone wears white at Wimbledon, that’s why people get excited when you ask them if they want a cup of tea – it’s just how it should be.
It should be on a Saturday and it should be known as the FA Cup, not ‘the FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser’ as it was up until 2014, when – after one year of the traditional, non-sponsored cup gave us all hope – conglomerate airline Emirates took over.
An American lager company paying millions to be associated with a sport they aren’t even good at? Are you serious?
The reported £8m paid by Emirates for naming rights to the competition was the price of removing the magic from the FA Cup.
But it’s not just that money is killing the competition.
The Premier League’s new TV deal is sure to extend the already massive gap between the top 20 and the other 72 teams in the Football League, meaning fairytale giant-killings are going to become even rarer.
Some might say that it makes them more special when they occur but in truth, there will be no magic left for anyone to care anymore.
Salford City captured everyone’s attention this year when they made it to the second round, before being knocked out by Hartlepool after a replay.
But even Salford didn’t do it the ‘proper’ way.
The Ammies are famously owned by the Class of 92 and pay their players massive wages for the level they’re at.
Star striker Gareth Seddon earns around £400 per week, wages that wouldn’t be out of place in League Two – never mind the Northern Premier League Premier Division where they actually compete.
Although they’re technically still part time players, it’s hard to share their kind of fairytale story that truly epitomises the FA Cup.
And it’s that kind of fairytale that we are going to have to cope without from now on, because the magic of the FA Cup has well and truly gone.