Welcome to the weekend
It isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea to say that Mike Ashley doesn’t appear to be very interested in the FA Cup.
However, as we move into yet another football free weekend for Newcastle fans, I do think there are other worrying aspects to our sorry FA Cup story.
It is bad enough a club owner giving up on the FA Cup but I have a feeling that there is a creeping sense of supporters doing the same thing.
FA Cup crowds have already dipped from the pre-Ashley days and I wonder just how many would turn up whenever Newcastle next get a home draw. It was 31,166 against Cardiff 13 months ago and unless United pulled an attractive tie out of the hat then you could only see it going south of that figure next time.
I think it is especially worrying where younger Newcastle fans are concerned, what does the FA Cup mean to them?
If you are around 25 or younger, then you have grown up in an era where you are constantly bombarded with the message that the Champions League is where it’s at, with the FA Cup a very poor relation.
So if then on top of that you add the last nine years (see below) of going out six times at the first attempt (3rd Round) and the other three at the second attempt (4th Round).
If you are in that 25 or younger age group you must pretty much wonder what the more mature Newcastle fans are going on about.
For slightly older fans, in fact anybody who came after the Supermac era, I have a horrible feeling that our equivalent of the old-timers’ golden age in the 50s, will be near miss period of 1998-2006, on six out of nine occasions we got at least to the sixth round and had two semi-finals and a couple of finals to ‘enjoy’.
Just like the apathy and grim acceptance that has settled over the home crowds in the Premier League in recent times, something which has very much accelerated this season.
It definitely feels to me as though Newcastle supporters simply see the FA Cup as an abstract idea, something that we haven’t really got anything to do with.
I find myself increasingly detached and if like the last round I do end up catching any part of it on TV, it feels like I’m watching foreign teams playing. I can enjoy the match but I don’t consciously think about it as being linked with NUFC
In John Carver’s short period in charge so far, it appears obvious to me that by far the biggest mistake he’s made was in his handling of the Leicester 3rd Round FA Cup tie.
We’ll never know for sure exactly how ‘injured’ players were, but the Head Coach really set himself up for a fall when he came out all guns blazing and claimed he would be putting out the strongest possible side.
Almost four and a half thousand fans travelled, absolutely astonishing support, only to then find that pretty much all of Newcastle’s best players were not in the team and there were seven changes from the previous match.
Sadly, while Mike Ashley remains at the club I see no chance of any change in policy.
While the fact that the easy to see revenue isn’t brilliant in the FA Cup in terms of prize money and associated cash benefits, I think the TV situation is behind Ashley’s ruthless cup policy.
The TV coverage, especially overseas, that the FA Cup gets compared to the Premier League is miniscule. So a bit of a waste of time when it comes to promoting the rest of his business empire on the back of Newcastle United.
Maybe the most obvious sign that Newcastle United is in the initial stages of long-term recovery will be when the FA Cup is talked about enthusiastically once again and even younger people are thinking of it as something special where NUFC are concerned.
Newcastle United exit point each season:
3rd Round 2014/15
3rd Round 2013/14
3rd Round 2012/13
4th Round 2011/12
3rd Round 2010/11
4th Round 2009/10
3rd Round 2008/09
4th Round 2007/08
3rd Round 2006/07
6th Round 2005/06
4th Round 2003/04
3rd Round 2002/03
6th Round 2001/02
3rd Round 2000/01
Semi Final 1999/2000
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