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    Should the Fa Cup winners be given a Champions League spot?

    This weekend sees the Fa Cup 3rd round take centre stage after a hectic festive period for all teams involved. With the Premier League and Championship clubs now joining the competition there are some attractive ties to be played out over the next three days as the competition hots up. Despite this there seems to be a lack of love for this prestigious trophy in previous years with almost all the big teams leaving out numerous first team players and playing youngsters instead. This trend is expected to continue this season with clubs prioritising their league campaigns and European competitions over a cup run.

    The reasons for this are well documented with the unbelievable riches of England's top flight and the Champions League. The Fa Cup simply cant compete with this and this is a huge factor in the almost disinterest in the competition. The number of games played in a season are also seen as a reason for resting main players in this competition and this has seen a fall in the attendances at grounds across the country. These are clearly the two main factors in the demise of the cup and I believe something should be done to reignite this competition once considered the best club competition in world football. Many teams are guilty of resting players and it annoys me when you see the competition almost treated as a reserve team game.

    Growing up the Fa Cup was always the pinnacle of club football with every young boy wanting to grow up to lift the trophy. Television coverage of the cup was always on the BBC and for many it was there only chance to see a full game of football on the TV as not many people had Sky-sports and streaming of games was non existent. Fa Cup final day was on a Saturday with a traditional 3pm kick off and was a national event with the whole country captivated, the romance of the cup gripping people otherwise uninterested in football.

    I think the main factor that made the Fa cup so great was the feeling that literally anything could happen. The competition that any team in the country even part time non league teams can go on a cup run and draw their heroes and play them at the beautiful game. I will always remember Wycombe Wanderers reaching the semi finals in 2001 with the goal scoring hero Roy Essandoh a striker signed after then manager Lawrie Sanchez placed an advertisement on Ceefax which he responded too. There have also been other numerous upsets notably Wimbledon's 'Crazy Gang' lifting the cup beating League Champions and massive favourites Liverpool.

    The cup was undoubtedly a brilliant competition however with the noticeable drop in interest the question is how do we regain this interest. There have been a number of suggestions in the past with seeding to ensure smaller teams get big draws and the winner being entered into the Champions league. I believe the latter is an excellent idea in order to give the big teams a nudge to play there strongest teams and progress further in the competition. This will in turn boost attendances as the best players will be on show and interest nationally will be higher. The smaller teams will also get to play there idols instead of youth team players which has been happening recently taking the magic away from the games.

    The Champions League spot would also give different teams in the Premier League an opportunity to qualify for the competition as apart from last season with Leicester City we have had almost the same qualifiers year after year. I believe this would really make the competition intense again with not just the cup to play for but a chance to go toe to toe with Europe's finest which realistically would not come about otherwise.

    Some people have argued that having the semi finals at Wembley has devalued it slightly however many clubs do not get the chance to play at the home of football for many years so I think it is a good idea. The kick off times of recent finals has been Saturday at 5.30 which whilst isn't traditional does I believe help drum up interest so again hasn't adversely effected the cup. There is no real way of making The FA Cup's prize money larger as they have other places for the money like grass roots football and there is no way they can compete with the brand around the world that is the Premier League. If they did make the prize fund larger it would still not be large enough to tempt the big clubs to put it on a par with the league campaign.

    There are many little teething changes that could be made in order to rejuvenate the competition however I believe that allowing the winner of the cup to progress to the Champions League is the best option mentioned and personally I would love it as I want to see the cup return to its former glory.

    Lets hope that this years cup is filled with some fairy tale stories as have been in past seasons with teams playing their big names and some excellent games of football.

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    Item Reviewed: Should the Fa Cup winners be given a Champions League spot? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: James Kendrick
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