FA Cup in the raw.

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FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:58 pm

The FA Cup has long lost its once-compelling glamour as even low ranking top division sides field weakened teams these days, placing Premiership survival ahead of silverware. But at the lower end of the game, the trophy still has the power to enthuse supporters. It's been over fifteen years since I last took in a qualifying round match but with the Scotland game not kicking off until 5pm on Saturday, I decided to forego the opening stages on TV and take myself off to a third round qualifier. I wasn't disappointed, as you can see here:

https://plus.google.com/photos/10030573 ... 8400626833
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:15 pm

None of this nonsense about ten days for a replay. The return was played on Monday night with Chelmsford winning 4-1 before an attendance of 576. Their reward is a plum home tie against Conference leaders Barnet with a place in the FA Cup proper at stake.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby bluedragon » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:42 pm

scottish wrote:Their reward is a plum home tie against Conference leaders Barnet with a place in the FA Cup proper at stake.


....and not to mention £7,500 in prize money! It is good to see money going into the lower levels of the game.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:09 pm

Just looking at the prize fund here: http://www.thefa.com/thefacup/more/prize-fund Whitehawk would get £4,500 for winning their second qualifying round tie and if I've read it correctly, the £7,500 Chelmsford get for reaching the next round is ADDITIONAL to that. But, seeing as losing teams only get mentioned at the semi-final stage, it looks like if a team loses at its entry level (i.e. up to and including the third round proper) they receive nothing from the prize fund. That's not so bad at the top end of the scale where third round winners get £67,500. All the losing entry level clubs are from the Premiership or Championship so it's a few players weekly wage at worst. But in the earlier rounds the cost of losing a tie is horrendous. To take one of the worst examples: Bedford lost 3-2 at home to King's Langley in the extra preliminary round. If I've read it right then they get nothing but the winners get £1,500 - a handy sum for a club that size but a nightmare for the losers whose attendance of 29 wouldn't be anywhere near covering their costs.

Those costs are significant up to and including the first round proper. The second round consists entirely of first round winners and, as said earlier, the impact on third round entry level losers is much less significant than entry level losers in the earlier stages.

It seems to me the FA have some thinking to do here. £500 for extra preliminary round losers would cost just £92,000. Admittedly that's the only level where you can specify exactly how many entry level losers there would be but it still strikes me that keeping a small pot back for entry level losers, based on around one-third of what the winners get for each round up to and including the first round and shaving the total off the last four's prize money would mean a fairer deal for the smaller clubs and remove a gnat from an elephant's back for the last four.

I think I'm right in saying all clubs in the Scottish Cup get some kind of payment regardless of result.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby bluedragon » Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:58 pm

I am not sure I agree with the concept of paying prize money for clubs losing ties at the entry level. The early rounds of the FA Cup are drawn on a regional basis to keep travelling costs down for the smaller clubs so there are no big travel bills. For non-league clubs in England they can also enter either the FA Trophy or the FA Vase where there is a similar but lower value prize money structure. So most clubs will have the chance of winning at least one entry level game in one of the two competitions they enter. I just cannot get around the idea of a club not winning a match and getting prize money. Perhaps I am just old fashioned and I am also not a club treasurer who may have a different view.

I fully agree with the relative value of the prize money at the lower level of the game. The English non-league club I follow can pay off its annual ground rent with modest progress in the FA Cup, As a consequence it is seen as a disaster if they go out early.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:29 pm

I have to disagree. I take your point about the FA Trophy/Vase but these are separate competitions and it's by no means impossible for a team to lose in the starting rounds of the two competitions they enter.

It's a different sport but tennis offers guarantees for participation. First round singles losers at Wimbledon get an astonishing £27,000 for turning up and even in the least popular event (Mixed Doubles) there's £1,400 per pair. Qualifiers aren't treated badly either. Both men and women who fall at the first qualifying hurdle get £3,375. Now I know there are greater travelling expenses (apart from British players who receive unjustified "wild cards") involved but the principle is that if you take part, you get paid. It's not as if more money would be ploughed back into grass roots football by not offering a guarantee to entry level losers. Instead, it's just a little more lining of the pockets of the Chelseas & Man Citys of this world.

As you say, failure to make even modest progress can hurt a club badly. Even the concept of a regional draw becomes more elasticated as the tournament progresses. For the fourth round qualifying, Telford United come in and face a trip to Spennymoor. That's around 200 miles, about the same as the longest trip in the SPFL Premiership between Dingwall and Kilmarnock. And in the last round Gainsborough Trinity welcomed Marine who travelled 130 miles to get there. Their reward for winning is to make a similar length of journey to Gateshead.

I really don't see why modest sums can't be set aside for entrants. It harms no one as winners in each round still receive far more than losers, it stops after the first round, thus giving nothing to losers from the top two divisions, and the only people who lose out are clubs who reach the last four, who are already guaranteed £1,800,000, £900,000 and £450,000.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby bluedragon » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:30 pm

I am probably only putting up token resistance because I would always support more money being funnelled down to the lower levels of the game where the relative value of the prize money is much, much higher. I could probably agree to pay entrant level loser prize money IF the club lose to a club playing at a higher level of the English Pyramid. I do think clubs tend to enter the FA Cup at a geographical level where they already play their league football or even more local. So they must have already been successful before being asked to travel further than normal for the next round. So I do not think at entrant level they are paying more travel costs than a normal league game. The last time the non-league club I follow in England lost to lower league opposition the coach broke down on the way home to add insult to injury.

Oh for this level of prize money in the Scottish Junior game. I was at the First Round Junior Cup match between Forth Wanderers and Dufftown a few weeks ago. There cannot be many times that Dufftown play at a ground at a higher altitude than their home ground! However, a 07:00 start for a long drive to Lanarkshire for a 14:30 kick off and then a long trip after a defeat and all funded by a very small club.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:45 am

I see what you're saying about leagues being regionalised but there are always anomalies. It's not every club that's clustered round a large metropolitan area. I mentioned Guernsey in another thread. Now, every away game is a long trip for them and even takes them up as far as Tooting. As it turned out they were drawn away to Worthing in the FA Cup and were beaten in front of a crowd of 248. So not a brass farthing for them out of this season's tournament. I'm sure we've touched on the situation in the past whereby Workington Town and Gloucester City were in the same division and even this season Workington have to play teams from both West & East Midlands and even King's Lynn!

Another question is of course the vagaries of the draw. Like any cup tournament home teams are more likely to prevail than away sides. Thus a run of away games can lead to defeats with no recompense. In the Scottish Cup Burntisland Shipyard haven't had a single home draw since the current Scottish Cup format was adopted - nine away draws in succession and eight of them lost. But they will receive a minimum payment.

Finally, there is the question of being hampered by success. This hardly applies in Scotland, with just a few non-league clubs exempted to the second round and league clubs entering at that stage. But in England, with six qualifying rounds before league clubs enter, some teams can be punished by their own success. Move up a level in the pyramid and your cup entry moves up a round as well. On the face of it, a good thing, as fewer games need to be played to reach the competition proper. But it also means a club is much less likely to have a win(s) under its belt. And at the lower end of the game there's precious little cash to be made from moving up a league level as crowds are pretty much the same, especially if capacities are low and travelling support almost non-existent. A case in point is Truro City. Now, obviously wherever they went they faced a lengthy journey but by the time they reached the Southern League Premier they were facing trips to Staffs, Worcs, Oxford and Cambridge. It improved a bit when they were in the Conference South but now they are back in the Southern Premier, it's back to visits to Banbury, St Neot's, Corby & Hereford. They spent two seasons at the higher level. In the first of them they won an FA Cup tie. In the second they didn't. Obviously if they'd entered at an earlier stage they'd have had a much better chance of earning some prize money. In their case there was precious little to be gained in revenue from supporters by playing at a higher level and away fans were thin on the ground, given the travelling distances involved.

I've said before that the Junior Cup (are Barr still the sponsors?) should open itself up to ALL non-league teams, becoming in effect the Scottish equivalent of the FA Trophy (I also think all Junior clubs should be allowed to enter the Scottish Cup if they wish). This differentiation between junior and senior is antiquated and should have been put to bed a long time ago. The FA in England had the good sense to dispose of the distinction between non-league and (sh)amateur as far back as 1974. I'm not saying it would guarantee more money for the clubs involved but Scottish Cup involvement would, and for that some blazers would have to be given up. I'm not knocking junior committee men. I know how much they put into the game and I can't see chairmen of senior clubs out with a fork and a shovel at nine in the morning trying to make sure the game goes ahead. But they need to start looking beyond the end of their noses.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Snuff » Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:20 am

Scottish wrote:

I've said before that the Junior Cup (are Barr still the sponsors?) should open itself up to ALL non-league teams, becoming in effect the Scottish equivalent of the FA Trophy (I also think all Junior clubs should be allowed to enter the Scottish Cup if they wish). This differentiation between junior and senior is antiquated and should have been put to bed a long time ago.


Well said that man; that proposal, with which I entirely agree, is so sensible, this being Scottish football - it will never happen. Celtic and the Rangers Tribute Act are more likely to amalgamate than the clubs agree to Scottish's suggestion.

Anent the Junior Cup sponsors. As far as I am aware, Barr only took-on the sponsorship last year, because the game was at Rugby Park and featured two Ayrshire clubs. They are certainly not denoted as sponsors on the SJFA website, which refers to the competition only as the Scottish Junior Cup.

Mind you, if it does have a sponsor, I will be the last person Tom Johnston will tell about it.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Fri Oct 17, 2014 11:35 am

Snuff wrote:[b

Mind you, if it does have a sponsor, I will be the last person Tom Johnston will tell about it.[/b]


Not on the Xmas card list then? Must admit I wasn't aware of any Barr's connection till the final. I thought there hadn't been a sponsor since OVD pulled out.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby bluedragon » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:21 pm

I am weakening to your powers of persuasion!

I would agree that a club drawn away in their entry level in the FA Cup and losing in that first match should get some prize money. I take your point about the “luck of the draw” and the example of Burntisland Shipyard. I recall seeing Clydebank’s poor record – for a Superleague club – in the Junior Cup over the last five years until, that is, you see who they played and where!

As you say, we have previously discussed the way the dividing line between North and South is drawn in the English Conference and sometimes with odd results. It must be the most difficult level to run a club with big travelling bills, not much by way of increased gate money and the next level up being virtually all full-time.

Your point about the Scottish Junior Cup is interesting. Looking on, the English Pyramid is one of the success stories of the English game. Each club can find its own level and ambitious clubs have a route to move up. The opposite applies of course where clubs failing move down. Vauxhall Motors, while more than holding their own on the playing side, elected to “relegate” themselves from the Conference North last season and to take the opportunity to re-group at a lower, more local, level.

I would suggest that the English Pyramid can probably trace its roots back to the creation of the FA Trophy competition in 1969/70. Up until this date the non-league, semi-professional game was largely ignored by the FA and players did not have their own national cup competition or could not represent their country. Just before then in 1968 the Northern Premier League was established to bring together the top northern non-leagues clubs. With the ending of amateur status in 1974 the FA Trophy became the senior “non-league cup” and in 1979/80 saw the start of the Alliance Premier League (now the Conference National) that is now the Fifth Division in old money. My point is that the Pyramid must have started from pressure from the clubs rather than an FA blueprint. Perhaps that pressure is simply not there in sufficient strength to create change in Scotland? I can imagine there was anxiety in famous leagues like the Lancashire Combination and the Southern League during the re-organisation that saw a devaluation in their status. However, “the clubs are the league” and will dictate what happens.

I think that if we want to find out the best non-league clubs in the country then we need a pyramid. However, a starting point might be for the SFA to find an old trophy – which is what the FA did in 1969! - and call it the Scottish FA Trophy open to all Junior and Senior non-league clubs. I think it is then up to the clubs, leagues and SJFA to decide how to fit their current competitions around it.

I would have 88 clubs enter at the first National stage (2nd Round) and they would be Junior clubs in the four Superleagues (East, West X 2 and North) and Senior Clubs in the Lowland and Highland Leagues.

40 clubs would join them in the 2nd Round draw from the 1st Round thus making 128 to play out a straight knock out tournament on a national basis with one game, extra time and penalties.

80 clubs would contest the First Round played on an East/West/North regional split and they would arrive there by a range of byes for league champions and qualifying rounds. This would produce 40 clubs:

16 from the East of Scotland League and East Juniors
16 from the South of Scotland league and the other West Juniors
8 from the North Caledonian League and the other North Juniors

The only congestion points would be early in the season for lower level clubs with qualifying rounds and perhaps for very successful clubs at the end of the season.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Skyline Drifter » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:21 pm

scottish wrote:I think I'm right in saying all clubs in the Scottish Cup get some kind of payment regardless of result.

The Scottish Cup pays out to participators in each tie. There is a payment for playing in that round, not for winning the match. There is no "prize" per se for winning any Scottish Cup tie (except the final), the prize is a place in the next round where you will pick up another fee for playing in a round.

There is no make up for clubs who get byes either which brings with it the odd scenario where for instance in this year's 3rd round Queen of the South have a bye as a result of finishing 4th in the Championship last season. So we don't earn anything from the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup and don't get any gate receipts as we're idle that week. Raith Rovers in contrast get to go to Linlithgow for a decent gate and a payment of £6k. Of course they carry the risk of going out but if they advance then we'll end up at the same stage with them having made a bit more cash than us.

Contrast this with the League Cup which pays a prize money based on stage progress so all clubs in the last 16 get the same payout regardless of whether they played a couple of games to get there or got a bye to that stage.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:58 pm

It's not really a bye as it's quite clear that the exemptions until round four are the twelve Premiership clubs from there previous season plus the top four from the Championship. This has been the case since 1964-65 though the rounds have changed as has the number of exemptions. From 1964-65-1999-2000 inclusive there were 24 exemptions to the third round, based on league positions the previous season. With the addition of Elgin City and Peterhead to the league in 2000 the number of exemptions fell to 22. That remained the case until the current format was adopted in 2007-08. Hence, a club knows before the outset of any given season, where their finishing league place will establish which round of the Scottish Cup they enter the next. The only actual byes this season were the six in the preliminary round.

As for the "missing" gate receipts, again, I don't see how this is accurate. No fixtures are scheduled for that week. There are no Premiership fixtures for March 7th 2015, the same day as the cup quarter-finals. Clearly, at least four Premiership clubs won't be playing that day. In any case who's to say any particular team won't be playing away from home had there been fixtures scheduled.

I feel sorry for clubs who find scheduled fixtures amended through no fault of their own. The SPFL arranged matches for the international weekend but Rangers had call-ups so had their game away to Cowdenbeath postponed. So instead of a lucrative Saturday afternoon game it now takes place on a Tuesday night in November after the clocks have gone back. They'll still get a decent gate but not as much as a Saturday PM.

Allowing the OF to delay their start of the season also screws up the fixture list for other clubs. It has put Rangers way behind schedule in the Challenge Cup and that competition has also upset fixture lists in the Championship and League One via last weekend's semi-final.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Snuff » Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:13 pm

Scottish wrote:

Not on the Xmas card list then?


Not since 1993, when, I pointed-out in my "colour piece" on that season's Auchinleck Talbot v Glenafton Athletic Athletic final, at Firhill: that no member of the committee of either club was invited into the Directors Box, indeed the only person with the slightest connection to the competing clubs to be in the DB was local MP George Foulkes.

Joe Black, the then Secretary of the SJFA, took exception to this and to the fact I actually posted the correct attendance at one of the semi-finals, rather than the "official SJFA" attendance (some 1500 lower); and I was declared persona non gratia.

Tom JOhnston has contined to support Joe ever since and I have, in spite of having a lot of time for TJ, been "beyond the pale".

I live in hope that, now that Black - whom I have always found a thoroughly nasty individual, has reitred, I might be better treated, but, I am not holding my breath on this.

I will, however, for as long as the papers want me to, continue to turn up and report on the Junior Cup.
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Re: FA Cup in the raw.

Postby Scottish » Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:29 am

bluedragon wrote:I would suggest that the English Pyramid can probably trace its roots back to the creation of the FA Trophy competition in 1969/70. Up until this date the non-league, semi-professional game was largely ignored by the FA and players did not have their own national cup competition or could not represent their country. Just before then in 1968 the Northern Premier League was established to bring together the top northern non-leagues clubs.


Yes, up until 1968 there had been a great disparity in strength between the Southern League and leagues in the North. The NPL was established with the intention of becoming the equal of the SL and by and large it succeeded. It was, IIRC, also in response to Sir Norman Chester's report that year. Commissioned by the then Secretary of State for Education, Tony Crosland (an avid Grimsby Town supporter) in 1966, Chester advocated three national divisions with two regional divisions below that. Though there were no detailed plans for a full-scale pyramid. He made dozens of recommendations (including setting an age limit of 70 for the FA Council, Sepp Blatter must be glad he's Swiss, not English) but most were binned by the FA

blue dragon wrote: With the ending of amateur status in 1974 the FA Trophy became the senior “non-league cup” and in 1979/80 saw the start of the Alliance Premier League


Reminds me of the old joke (I'm sure it was told of many managers but I heard it about John Bond). Bond was managing Man City when they were struggling to stay in the top flight. The story goes that he was conducting some business in a building society when he came over a bit faint and collapsed. When he came to, he was a bit groggy and asked where he was. "You're in the Alliance," he was told. To which his rejoinder was "Effin hell, what happened to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th divisions?"

blue dragon wrote: My point is that the Pyramid must have started from pressure from the clubs rather than an FA blueprint.


Yes it did. The re-election system whereby the bottom four clubs went up against non-league would-be entrants stank. After the Football League was extended to 92 clubs in 1950, there was hardly any change. After the establishment of the Fourth Division in 1958 the next 28 seasons saw re-election rather than automatic promotion applied. That meant 112 applications for re-election from existing league clubs, 107 of which were successful.

You couldn't blame the old pals act for this either. Clubs in the bottom two divisions were only associate members of the league and had only four votes (two per division) between them. The old Divisions One and Two had 44 votes - one per club. Some clubs knew how to work the system by effective lobbying. Hartlepool were up for re-election eleven times since the formation of Division Four and were successful on every occasion. Taking into account their days in Division Three North the were re-elected fourteen times in all. Gateshead were in that position just once, assumed they would be okay, but lost their place in 1960 - only the second club to do so post-war (New Brighton losing out to Workington Town in the Third North in 1951 were the first). Peterborough United took their place and other four "lucky winners" were Cambridge United 1970 (for Bradford Park Avenue), Hereford United 1972 (for Barrow), Wimbledon 1977 (for Workington Town) and Wigan Athletic 1978 (for Southport). There was actually a sixth non-league club to join the league - Oxford United in 1962 - but that was as a consequence of Accrington Stanley going bust, not through election against a league club. Port Vale were expelled for financial irregularities in 1968 but were immediately voted back in.

Other than Wigan/Southport there was a pattern whereby clubs from increasingly affluent areas replaced teams from geographical extremities or, as in the case of Bradford PA, where another league club existed - the exact opposite of what has happened with new entrants to the Scottish League since 1994, though of course none of these has been by direct election of one club for another.

The main reason for the establishment (or re-establishment if you count the 1890s "test" matches) of play-offs in 1986-87 was to get the top division down to twenty clubs. The Conference clubs saw an opening and seized their chance. At this stage it was one up, one down. Lincoln City lost out and Scarborough were promoted, thus beginning Neil Warnock's long career as a league manager. I remember that on the final day of the season there was much talk of Burnley possibly going down but they won their last game to avoid that ignominious "distinction" of becoming the first ever club to lose their league place via relegation.

blue dragon wrote:I think that if we want to find out the best non-league clubs in the country then we need a pyramid. However, a starting point might be for the SFA to find an old trophy – which is what the FA did in 1969! - and call it the Scottish FA Trophy open to all Junior and Senior non-league clubs. I think it is then up to the clubs, leagues and SJFA to decide how to fit their current competitions around it.

I would have 88 clubs enter at the first National stage (2nd Round) and they would be Junior clubs in the four Superleagues (East, West X 2 and North) and Senior Clubs in the Lowland and Highland Leagues.

40 clubs would join them in the 2nd Round draw from the 1st Round thus making 128 to play out a straight knock out tournament on a national basis with one game, extra time and penalties.

80 clubs would contest the First Round played on an East/West/North regional split and they would arrive there by a range of byes for league champions and qualifying rounds. This would produce 40 clubs:

16 from the East of Scotland League and East Juniors
16 from the South of Scotland league and the other West Juniors
8 from the North Caledonian League and the other North Juniors

The only congestion points would be early in the season for lower level clubs with qualifying rounds and perhaps for very successful clubs at the end of the season.


I'd agree except for the nomenclature and the number of entries. Given their sensitivities I'd carry on calling it the Junior Cup and open it up to every non-league side, junior or senior. I don't see the East region being happy with the number of West entries as opposed to their own under your scheme.

Right, that's the non-league sorted out. Now, what about the seniors?
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