FA Cup still sets Jim's pulse racing

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton has no doubts about the continuing magic of the FA Cup.While the millions of pounds on offer in the Premier League have altered the perspective of some top flight clubs, the Blues boss confirmed that the competition still makes his pulse race.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton has no doubts about the continuing magic of the FA Cup.

While the millions of pounds on offer in the Premier League have altered the perspective of some top flight clubs, the Blues boss confirmed that the competition still makes his pulse race.

Speaking before today's third round tie at home to Premier League Portsmouth, Magilton said: “Maybe the magic has been lost to a certain extent at some clubs.

“But I would love to have a long run in the competition, and believe that winning breeds confidence.

“It is sad that money on offer in the Premier League has taken away some of the FA Cup glamour, but I know that Harry Redknapp, the Pompey boss, also wants to go far in the cup.”

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There are some judges, however, who have come to the conclusion that after 135 years the FA Cup retains about as much appeal for top flight clubs as a bout of winter vomiting.

So much so that many of the big clubs now treat the third round as a chance to let their star players put their feet up after a punishing Christmas programme.

Reading manager Steve Coppell, for one, has a long-standing policy of resting his first-teamers for cup competitions. So does Arsene Wenger, whose Arsenal players visit Burnley in what on paper should be a classic little and large confrontation but in reality is more likely to be a formality considering Arsenal's “kids” could probably hold their own in the Premier League.

Yes, there are many reasons for the growing ambivalence towards the cup, including the influx of foreign players not steeped in its history and the increasing cost of watching football.

Way out ahead, however, is the overwhelming power of the Premier League and the Champions League.

The figures tell the story.

Winners of the FA Cup this season will receive £1million prize money with around £1m more from television fees. Whoever comes bottom of the Premier League will rake in around £30m.

Meanwhile, winners of the Champions League stand to make more than £20m while prize money alone for reaching the knockout phase stands at £2.2m.

The FA Cup simply cannot compete for attention or affection with clubs whose priorities are preserving their Premier League status or chasing the chance of European glory.

No wonder the most famous domestic knockout competition of them all has become little more than a “B” movie in today's vast footballing production.

But for Magilton - and for Town fans 30 years after Ipswich's memorable final victory at Wembley - the FA Cup retains its appeal.

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