The House of Payne - The FA Cup and non-League football is a match made in heaven
It seems to be commonly accepted now that football’s domestic cup competitions are on the decline – with the Premier League and Champions League now king.
The FA Cup is apparently not what it once was, while the League Cup has become essentially a competition for reserves among the big clubs.
Their cause is not helped when that has stretched to not so big clubs – one Championship club made 11 changes for their early season Capital One Cup ties.
You can lay some of the blame at the ruling bodies: a failure to impose sanctions on teams that field weakened teams; messing about with the times of finals; demeaning Wembley by making it home to semi-finals; doing away with second replays; too many different sponsors; all the way back to 13 years ago when Manchester United got special dispensation not to take part.
All poor decisions, which in their own way have devalued competitions. But if the FA have to take some of the blame they should also get credit for the fact that, at non-League level, their competitions are in unprecedented rude health.
The reason is simple, the FA have set prize money at levels that make a real difference to grassroots clubs.
Burton, Stevenage and Mansfield have all reached the Football League in recent years shortly after lucrative FA Cup runs.
But even in the FA Trophy, Kingstonian and other eliminated sides were bemoaning missing out on £2,700 as the price for losing a match.
Cup blot: Dowson's record in the cup competitions is not the greatest SP73008
The one blot on Alan Dowson’s otherwise excellent record as Ks manager is a shocking cup record – and added to the FA Cup first qualifying round defeat at Margate, it’s a costly blot.
Dowson is this week grateful to his board for saying the cup failures don’t mean big cutbacks at Ks.
But it is evidence that no one in non-League football these days can afford to take cup football lightly with cup success one of the best ways of funding a promotion push.
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