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How the Premier League Can Return the Magic to the FA Cup

12/01/2014 22:44 GMT | Updated 14/03/2014 09:59 GMT

The FA Cup is a competition that many fans of English football still hold close to their hearts and it means something to say that their team, whichever one it may be, has won the FA Cup.

In the Premier League era, however, the importance has shifted away from the FA Cup and towards the Premier League title itself. Whilst league football was always important, the FA Cup was once the end of season show piece.

A day of television would be dedicated to it during a time when there was very little football to watch on TV and that gives you some idea of how much it meant.

But there are new goals for today's top teams - the Premier League title and the Champions League. Because of this, the FA Cup gets left behind as a backup competition for those who have been knocked-out of everything else.

How has this happened to a once great competition? Many things in football have changed, but one thing that has remained constant is the FA Cup and maybe that's the reason.

Since its inception, the Premier League has succeeded in making itself a global brand, watched by millions the world over. The prizes on offer are the Champions League and the Europa League, but even the team that finishes bottom of the league gets handed more money than the FA Cup winners.

Because of this, it is no longer a priority for the bigger clubs and this is highlighted by some of the team selections seen in the FA Cup. On Sunday, West Ham suffered defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest, getting trounced 5-0. This was mainly down to a weakened team and a change of formation.

West Ham never got going and Forest took advantage, but fair play to them for doing so. Many will think, however, that Sam Allardyce didn't show the FA Cup or the travelling West Ham fans the respect they deserve with his team selection.

With a list of injuries and a Carling Cup semi-final to prepare for, Allardyce had to make a choice and his decision was the Carling Cup. This is fundamentally where the problem lies and although no one goes out to lose a game, sometimes you have to prioritise. Given that the FA Cup starts for the Premier League teams in January, there are usually more pressing matters, like winning the league or relegation, to contend with.

This was pointed out by Paul Lambert last week and although he has since said he was taken out of context, the Aston Villa manager faced a lot of criticism for his comments.

Rightly or wrongly, you have to understand his point and come the end of the season it would be very unlikely that he still had his job if Villa were relegated but won the FA Cup.

So, where now? For it to regain it's prominence in the football calendar, the FA Cup has to make dreams come true again. It still provides us with giant slayers and gives lower league clubs the chance to play against Premier League opposition, but maybe now it needs to offer lower end Premier League teams something more than FA Cup glory.

It's been suggested on various radio phone-ins that a Champions League place be put up for grabs. This would definitely bring an incentive back to competing for the Cup and regain the attention of teams on the hunt for a Champions League spot.

The answer seems obvious and if you want the FA Cup to regain its magic, then it needs updating, but first it should be given back to the fans.

Make the draws on Monday, rather than in between games on a Sunday, and take the semi-finals away from Wembley so as to make the final that bit more special. The Premier League might have taken the importance away from the FA Cup, but it can be used to bring it back by giving up a Champions League spot.

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