Crawley Town v Leeds United - proof the magic of the FA Cup never goes away

The magic of the FA Cup is deemed an extinct concept in the higher leagues of English football, but it’s a different story the further down the pyramid you go.

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 7:50 am

Few dispute the fact that the FA Cup has lost its magic as far as the top teams are concerned. The 'big six' clubs who win the competition every few years take no glory from the achievement past the day itself. Similarly, the medium-sized clubs can only really hope of winning a couple of games before going out to a weakened Premier League team in the third or fourth round.

Consequently, we must look at the lower echelons of professional football and non-league; teams like Crawley Town and Chichester City.

The FA Cup

What does this actually mean to these clubs? What is the magic of the FA Cup?

For me, it boils down to three main points: the emotions and experiences of playing opposition far above your level, establishing short/medium-term financial security and crucial exposure.

We all know football is a game full of passion, every feeling from ecstasy to dismay has washed over any fan of our beautiful game.

However, there is a difference when it comes to cup magic, it possesses an air of romance that leaves one full of joy during the event, followed by nostalgic contentment after the fact that you don’t get with league football. If you’re a fan of a club that has been on a magical cup run, I’m sure you’ll know this feeling; think Crawley Town in 2009/10 against Manchester United, Chichester City last season away at Tranmere, and maybe Brighton and Hove Albion in 2019 depending on your views.

For everyone involved with a lower league club, particularly Chairmen, the influx of financial rewards is an important bonus of a cup run.

Crawley could pocket £82,000 should they beat Leeds on Sunday (10th) as well as a healthy cheque for their TV appearance. Add the £25,500 for their victory over Torquay United (speaking of every feeling from ecstasy to dismay) and those upstairs will be very happy.

In non-league, the magic of the FA Cup can secure teams' financial security for years. Chichester City and this year’s shock outfit, Marine, earned almost £200k each from their cup runs, enough to pay all the bills for at least three seasons in the eighth tier!

The exposure cup runs give teams is of immeasurable value: clubs earn a rare appearance on TV and non-league teams pick up thousands of social media followers. In fact, this exposure can simply let fans of bigger clubs in the area know these smaller teams exist and it can spread the important word of lower-league football.

Everyone loves an underdog story and only time will tell how long the magic of the FA Cup will continue to cast fortune upon this year’s minnows. These stories always come to an end eventually, and no one knows what will happen next year, but it could be your club making national headlines; the magic of the FA Cup never goes away!