FA Cup remains in doldrums despite weekend of shocks

1 / 2
2 / 2
Updated 29 January 2013
0

FA Cup remains in doldrums despite weekend of shocks

LONDON: The romance of the FA Cup was rekindled on a weekend when soccer’s goliaths had never looked so vulnerable but the string of top-flight second XIs who fell or stumbled said much about where the competition now ranks.
Staid and predictable and in danger of becoming little more than a sideshow, the FA Cup was given the equivalent of life-saving surgery as Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa were dumped out by lower league clubs.
Those who fell, however, made wholesale changes, choosing to rest top players and blood inexperienced youngsters with important midweek Premier League games uppermost in the minds of under-pressure managers.
QPR boss Harry Redknapp described the 4-2 defeat by third-tier Milton Keynes Dons as “disgusting” but he retained only two players from the side that drew with West Ham United the weekend before.
Perhaps making a point to the club’s powerbrokers about the paucity of his squad, Redknapp clearly chose to prioritise their fight to avoid relegation.
Norwich’s elimination was less excusable. The Canaries enjoy the relative comfort of a seven-point cushion over the bottom three but still made six changes against Luton Town before becoming the first top-flight side in 24 years to lose to a minor league club.
The reality of the modern English game is the Premier League and Champions League are financial behemoths and clubs are less interested in silverware than keeping their noses in the money trough.
If top-flight survival is threatened or there is even an outside chance of reaching the promised land of a top-four place and Champions League qualification, then the FA Cup takes a back seat.
Liverpool reached the FA Cup final and won its poorer sibling, the League Cup, last season but still sacked manager Kenny Dalglish after their stumbling league form ended in an eighth-place finish.
Dalglish was later quoted as saying that not even an FA Cup victory would have kept him in his job.
It was perhaps with those words ringing in his ears that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers made five changes to his side at third-tier Oldham Athletic on Sunday including dropping captain Steven Gerrard to the bench.
Liverpool were roughed up 3-2 by Oldham in a defeat that hinted at the fact that cultured Premier League sides had forgotten how to deal with the old-fashioned high ball into the box, part of the staple diet of lower division clubs.
Rodgers then chose to point the finger at those he had drafted in.
“I was disappointed with the young players. We’re trying to give them experience and let them see what it’s like to play for Liverpool,” he told reporters.
Liverpool are seventh in the league but it seems the outside chance they have of finishing in the top four made changes inevitable.
It is unlikely that 22-year-old center back Sebastian Coates or 19-year-old full back Jack Robinson will be retained when Liverpool get back to league business against Arsenal on Wednesday.
The seven-times FA Cup winners were not alone in concentrating on their Champions League potential.
Tottenham made five alterations for a 2-1 defeat at second-tier Leeds United while Chelsea also changed five players as they twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at third-tier Brentford.
Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson said the world’s oldest knockout competition was now just a shop window for players on the fringes of squads, an opportunity for individualism to replace the team ethic embraced by lower league giant-killers.
The former Ireland international also suggested the FA Cup had lost its lustre for players used to Premier League luxury.
“What a sad sign of the times it is that the wages in the Premier League are so fantastic that for many players top-flight football is the be-all and end-all,” he wrote in the Daily Mirror.
“The brutal truth is the FA Cup for some players has gone down the scale in terms of competitions they want to do well in.”
A drastic solution such as giving the winners one of the four Champions League places would undoubtedly encourage teams to place more emphasis on the competition in the future.


Modi forecasts IPL players will earn ‘$1m a game’

Updated 19 April 2018
0

Modi forecasts IPL players will earn ‘$1m a game’

  • Modi believes that if that $12 million cap is relaxed, leading IPL players could earn as much as English Premier League footballers and even NFL stars
  • London-based Modi forecast the end of country versus country contests, which effectively finance professional cricket structures all round the world and the demise of the International Cricket Council, the sport’s global governing body

LONDON: Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi believes there will come a time when players will earn $1 million dollars per game while warning that the traditional program of matches between countries “will disappear.”
A Twenty20 domestic franchise competition launched a decade ago, which has spawned a host of imitators worldwide, the IPL is now the most lucrative of all cricket tournaments.
“The IPL is here to stay,” Modi told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper in an interview published Thursday. “It will be the dominant sporting league in the world.”
IPL teams are bankrolled by wealthy businessmen operating in an environment where the passion for cricket in India, the world’s second-most populous nation, makes the game an attractive target for sponsors and broadcasters.
At present there is a team salary cap, with the likes of England all-rounder Ben Stokes earning $1.95 million per season from the Rajasthan Royals.
But Modi believes that if that $12 million cap is relaxed, leading IPL players could earn as much as English Premier League footballers and even NFL stars.
That would have a huge impact on international cricket, with players torn between making an IPL fortune and representing their countries.
“You will see players making $1-$2m a game,” said Modi. “It will happen sooner rather than later.
“In a free market the person with the deepest pockets will win. The players will gravitate toward who pays the biggest salary.”
Meanwhile, in a chilling argument for cricket traditionalists, London-based Modi forecast the end of country versus country contests, which effectively finance professional cricket structures all round the world and the demise of the International Cricket Council, the sport’s global governing body.
“Today international cricket does not matter,” he said. “It is of zero value to the Indian fan.
“Tomorrow you will see bilateral cricket disappear,” Modi added. “Big series will happen once every three or four years like the World Cup.
“The ICC will become an irrelevant body. It will be full of fat lugs who have no power. They can scream and shout now and in the future they will threaten to throw India out if they try to expand the IPL but India has the power to stand on its own feet...They have a domestic league that it is going to be 20-times the size of international cricket.”
Modi said the only way five-day international Test cricket, long regarded as the pinnacle of the sport, could survive was if the ICC introduced a long talked-about championship.
“I think there is a window for Test cricket and a World Test championship will survive if all nations get together and make it a proper tournament,” he explained.
“But it has to be a championship. If the ICC does not do it I see no reason why the IPL would not do it instead as a knockout IPL Test championship.”
Modi left India to live in London and has not returned home since 2009. The Board of Control for Cricket in India found him guilty of eight offenses relating to irregularities in the administration of the IPL.
He has never been charged by the Indian government with a crime and denies all accusations, but Modi has repeatedly insisted he cannot go back to India because of underworld threats to his life.