FA Cup final in need of a shake-up?
An exhibition race featuring the fastest players in the Premier League could add to the magic of the FA Cup final
It was reported in January that the FA Cup has lost its charm, and no longer matches the popularity and glamour of the Premier League.
It seems the top clubs and their supporters consider the early stages of the FA Cup a hassle more than a privilege - so what can be done to prevent this famous competition from slowly becoming unappreciated?
I live in Australia, and I believe the Aussie Rules Grand Final – Australia’s FA Cup final equivalent - can help refresh interest in the old English tournament.
The AFL Grand Final is played at the 100,000-seater Melbourne Cricket Ground and is one of the most significant events in the Australian sporting calendar. The match fills the MCG to capacity every year and is also watched at home by millions of fans nationwide, similar to the FA Cup final.
A race has traditionally been held at half-time during the Grand Final since 1979. The event stays true to the context of the sport – players run on grass with the option of using running spikes, but starting blocks are not allowed.
Generally excluding the two grand finalists, every club in the league nominates one player to participate in either of two preliminary heats prior to the match. The final 100m race features eight spots that are filled by the top four finishers in each heat.
Here's a video of Adelaide Crows star Patrick Dangerfield winning the 2012 AFL Grand Final Sprint final with an impressive time of 10.84: http://youtu.be/4gU7T1iHDcE
Repetitiveness and time consumption are two potential issues with hosting an annual all-star race, but there are simple solutions.
If players in all four tiers of English football were eligible, the preliminary heat process would be an enormous project. In order to combat this, should only Premier League footballers be able to compete?
The FA could also implement age cut-offs or previous event appearance restrictions if the competitors become too similar each year.
Courtesy of the event sponsor Gillette, the AFL Grand Final Sprint winner is given AUD$5000 that is usually donated to charity.
With adequate marketing and sponsorship deals, holding an FA Cup Final Sprint could also help the FA generate money to put towards important initiatives, such as fighting racism or improving grassroots football.
The event could also put the never-ending 'fastest player' debate to rest – though I’m sure fans would still come up with an excuse or two for their team’s speedster losing out.
Who do you think would feature in the 2013 FA Cup Final Sprint? Leave your eight-man field in the comments below!
1. Theo Walcott
2. Antonio Valencia
3. Gabriel Agbonlahor
4. Kyle Walker
5. Gareth Bale
6. Younès Kaboul
7. Ryo Miyaichi
Follow me on Twitter: @LukeKarlik
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