The F.A. announced today that clubs who make the Quarter Final stage onwards will be permitted to use a 4th substitute if the game goes to Extra Time. After a trial of the new rule was introduced in this Summer’s Copa America it will now be finding it’s way to what is perceived as the world’s premier knockout competition.
But the question that has to be asked is are we seeing the cup competitions both North and South of the border becoming all a bit too gimmicky and in turn becoming even more devalued.
The introduction of the extra sub goes along the side the EFL Trophy (known as the Johnstone Paints Trophy for many years) inviting Premier League academy sides and the SPFL introducing a penalty shoot out after 90 minutes if the game ends in a draw with 2 points going to the winner and 1 the loser.
Do we need all the extra tinkering to competitions, I guess it depends on what side of the fence you sit on when it comes to change. Football fans seem to be wary of change, I mean you only have to look at the way the proposals of ‘B’ teams and 4 leagues of 20 in the Football League have been shut down to see that change is rarely welcomed.
But do the governing bodies think that by making these changes they are making them for the better. The EFL Trophy has not really gone down well with most clubs, although it had to be voted by it’s own members for changes to be approved it has already taken a knock by the fact that 6 of the biggest Premier League clubs have refused the invite and had Football League chairman known that to have been the case then they would have not voted in favour.
The format has been introduced on a trial basis for a season but if Newcastle Academy end up playing Blackburn Academy in the final at Wembley how much clamour for a ticket will there be then that and it will take away what would be a rare trip to The Twin Towers for clubs in League 1 and League 2.
In Scotland you almost understand why they decided to make changes to the Scottish League Cup, unlike it’s English counterpart it doesn’t have the prize of European football for the winner so it doesn’t have anywhere near the glitz and glamour of England’s secondary cup competition.
By introducing the tournament in the Summer months it gives an earlier start to the season and the rare spectacle of Football in the sunlight. That in itself creates a better and more marketable spectacle or as Neil Doncaster would call it ‘product’
So the Summer Football is a good idea especially as Scotland has worse luck when it comes to the annual winter big freeze but the penalty shoot outs for a draw are still to win people over, then again maybe it goes back to football fans not being conditioned to change.
As for The F.A. Cup well it means a manager may now have a wild card to play after extra time, how much of a benefit it will actually be remains to be seen. It will probably be sold as looking after player’s fitness and preventing fatigue whereas it’s probably the backdoor entry for seeing four subs in 90 minutes.
Ultimately it depends on how much Football needs to keep evolving, if you fail to evolve over time then you ultimately get left behind but the game just needs to make sure it doesn’t just change for changes sake.