Thanks to some terrible photoshopping from me, Steve Bruce has become the country’s leading socialist after claims that the magic of the FA Cup is on the wane after inflated ticket prices kept real fans away from the grounds this weekend.
Bruce said; "Third round day was always a big date in my diary but these days it costs far too much for the average fan to watch football".
The facts seem to back him up too. Brum’s 2-2 draw with Newcastle was watched by 16,444 at St Andrews which is 5,000 down on their Championship average gate of 21,000 +. Bruce’s side weren’t the only one suffering from low gates.
Sixteen of the weekend’s thirty games were in front of attendances more than 1,000
down on the home clubâ€™s league average.
However, with Bruce claiming that this is a result of the cost of watching football, are there other issues to think about?
The Christmas fallout has to be taken into account with everyone being broke after spending their wages on presents and Christmas do’s etc. There is no doubt that the 3rd Round of the FA Cup has a magic that cannot be matched by any other competition. Swansea’s 3-0 thrashing of Sheffield United is the exact reason why the 3rd is so great. The brief moment when Macclesfield equalised against Chelsea show why the glamour of the FA Cup is back after a couple of years being shoved to the bottom of the priority list for many bigger clubs.
However, the financial rewards of the league are still of upmost importance to most sides, and that is evident when looking at the teams with lower gates than usual. In the case of Tamworth, Torquay and Doncaster, the
crowd was more than double the league average, but it would seem that these were anomolies. Of the Championship clubs that hosted FA Cup matches, 10 saw attendances down drastically from their league average. Derby down by 9,000, Stoke down by 8,000 and
Crystal Palace down by nearly 6000 seats. Sheffield United
had just 15,896 to watch their loss to Swansea which is a big dip of 14,429 on
their average gate. Everton were down 12,620 in their game against Premiership opponents Blackburn which suggests that it’s not always the quality of the opposition that keeps the fans away.
Ticket prices have certainly had an effect on your average fan. Bruce says: "Unfortunately, rising costs mean it is simply not
affordable for so many supporters to watch football every week."
He’s correct, but we have to look at quite a recent advent in the FA Cup for potential reasons why. Fans are paying through the nose to watch Premiership games week-in and week-out. Like the clubs, the fans prioritise. If a side is going to field a second string team, then surely, they can only expect a second string support? It is nice of Steve Bruce to highlight the plight of the paying fan, but if managers are intent on giving their reserves a run out, then surely the fans are more than entitled to stay at home and wait for Match of the Day?
What do you think the reasons for falling cup attendances are? Are the tickets too much? Do you feel you give enough to your club without attending the cup games? Or has the FA Cup become less of an importance?
Click here for the FA Cup draw [Mof Gimmers]