Are fans being cheated in FA Cup?
Alan Shearer has suggested that fans are being cheated by clubs putting out weakened sides in the FA Cup. According to Radio 5, Premier League clubs made an average of seven changes in their matches over the weekend.
Winning the FA Cup is never going to produce large sums of money and foreign owners may be used to the situation elsewhere in Europe where cups are very much secondary competitions, hence the abolition of the Cup Winners' Cup.
I can understand the position of teams like Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion in contention for promotion to the Premier League not wanting long cup runs. Newcastle fans who made the 250 mile journey to Oxford probably knew what they were in for.
A Radio 5 commentator travelled back from Sutton United with some Leeds fans. They were philosphical: they had had a good day out and seen a new ground. They were talking about the next league game against Blackburn.
The cases that do puzzle me are mid-table teams like Watford. They are in no real danger of being relegated, but nor are they going to qualify for Europe in the league. A cup run can be a morale boost and might even offer the possibility of Europa League qualification. But then some clubs think that is more trouble than it is worth.