Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Paul Scharner for Wigan Athletic (v Arsenal), 10 January 2006

Isn't it about time we ditched the League Cup?

Wigan Athletic yesterday played the biggest game in the club's history. They faced the mighty Arsenal at home in the semi-final of the League Cup, a competition whereby a final appearance would be likely to reward them with a place in next seasons UEFA Cup competition, less than thirty years after entering the League.

Attendance: 12,181

Tonight, Blackburn Rovers (again, looking for a UEFA Cup spot) held Manchester Utd to a 1-1 draw in front of less than a full house at Ewood Park.

It's not so much the spectators disinterest in the tournament, it's the teams disinterest that is undermining it as well. Arsenal's line up in a major Cup semi final included Kerrea Gilbert, Johan Djorou, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Sebastian Larsson and Arturo Lupoli. Wigan fielded Steve McMillan, Gary Teale and Andreas Johansson. Man United fielded Louis Saha and Mikael Silvestre.

From my experiences this season, the only thing that has kept it going was the great run Doncaster Rovers had, as at least their fans turned out in force and at least they played like they wanted to win the thing.

Were you excited when your team played in the Carling Cup this season? Am I being unfair to this forty year old competition, or is it time we consigned it to the dustbin and freed up some of the fixture congestion?


30-Something said...

As a Boro fan, I agree that we could do with less fixtures and a wee bit more time to "concentrate on the league", as the old cliche goes. However, the flip side of being a Boro fan means that it's the only major honour we have.

Having had attended cup final disappointments in recent years, I know how hard it can be to get tickets for FA Cup games (well, anything after the 5th round anyways), especially the final. As the FA give at least 2 FA Cup Final tickets to every single football league club - right down to your Tiny Town Sunday League Pub Team - I agree with those who call the Milk/Coca Cola/Worthington/Carling/Roy's Washing Machine Repairs (or whoever sponsors it these days) Cup the Fans' Cup.

The likes of Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea might be bored with it but I bet their fans aren't.

weenie said...

I think maybe the low attendances are due to the high volume of home games being played in such a short space of time?

Alex said...

Yes I was excited by our cup game. Until of course it started and I was certainly NOT excited by our first round exit against Macclesfield.

But there we go, that's football. I, and a lot of others, well, many...ok SOME others were interested and excited by the match. It was a shame that Megson, the club and a majority of fans weren't.

I'd like us to have a voucher for the first and second round of the League (or whatever) cup to be included in the season ticket book (if we don't get through then we simply don't use the voucher). It would probably still bring in a fair wad of cash from the sales of tea and coffee and beer and food...

As for Weenies arguement...well I travel an 80 mile round trip to see my team and I go to every home people who live closer to the ground than me who say they are passionate about their club need to put up and shut up. If your team is playing - go and see them!

Lord Bargain said...

I like Alex's argument there about the season ticket book.

5050 saw Forest v Macclesfield in this years Carling Cup. What's that generated them? £100,000 at £20 a ticket? I bet that barely paid the electric and police bill. If they'd had decent support, maybe they'd have won the game. Got a plum tie at a big club for big bucks. Had a cup run. Got the confidence back. Put Forest back on the map (etc)

I have to say, that I am a United fan, and I was pretty bored with last night's game. We'll qualify for the Champions League so the UEFA Cup prize it offers means nothing to us. And if Ferguson thinks the League Cup and nowt else is good enough to satisfy the fans/Glazers, he's pretty misguided. These days the FA Cup only *just* qualifies as good enough, such have the expectations been raised.

I think one of the other problems is that when clubs have proposed to slash ticket prices for Cup games (I understand Sunderland were planning to charge £6 for adults and £1 for kids for their FA Cup game with Northwich on Sunday), the smaller, visiting teams have challenged this with the authorities as it effectively denies them some gate receipts to which they would be entitled. Barnet forced us to charge pretty much full price for our League Cup game earlier this season as well.

I'm not saying we should bin it, I just think it's a shame (and the same applies for the UEFA Cup games at Boro and Bolton this season) that fans aren't turning out to see these "big" games. And I'm not blaming the fans either. Like Alex says - if they stuck £50 on your season ticket but you got all cup games, they'd get a load more guaranteed £50's and some decent crowds, I reckon. Everyone's a winner.

Alex said...

Ahhhhhh, but the Maccelsfield game was also a "Kids for a Quid Game" and there were a HELL of a lot of kids there...and my ticket was only a I reckon that there was a HUGE loss that night.

ANother interesting point is that (for Forest) anyway, a significant boost for our accounts last season was generated by our FA cup run, and bringing Spurs upto the City Ground. Imagine if we could have done that this season in ANY of the three bloody cups we have gone out of in the first and second round.

ohhhhhhhh and don't get me started on Kids for a Quid games, even my daughter (aged 11) hates "all the blooming kids who are there 'cos they aren't interested in the football", and I have huge issues with the season ticket book this season anyway, only THREE alternative ticket vouchers! The cheapskate gits!

Right I have calmed down now, and I have put my soap-box away.

El Tel said...

I think that with the expansion of competitive European football through champions league etc there has been a definitie shift in how the bigger teams regard the League and FA cups. With it becoming more and more obvious that the likes of Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal operate with a squad across the season, they use these competitions for development purposes - whether this counts as a devaluing, I'm not sure - it is though a different valuing (ie the competitions are subordinate to Euro football).

I was interested to see how similar the Man U line-ups against Burton and Blackburn were - in each case, I'm in no doubt that Ferguson wanted to win, but at what price? Risk Saha or risk Van Nistelrooy?!

The irony of fans taking less interest in these competitions is that with second string line-ups being used it increases the degree of competitiveness of these fixtures, levels the playing field so to speak.

Mark Hughes has been a great defender of the League Cup this season. It's very much the teams such as Blackburn - the middle-ranking top flight clubs - who stand to benefit most from the competition now.

As a generally romantic sort (or 'weirdo') who would 9 times out of 10 rather go and see Boston v Stockport than Bolton v Spurs, I still value the League Cup in terms of what it offers to all of those clubs who are not at the top end of the top flight.

Now the LDV Vans Trophy, now that's a different matter... although actually, come to think of it, it isn't. Same principles, same rules.