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SWINDON TOWN: Wray: "They're killing cup football"
SWINDON Town chairman Jeremy Wray feels cup football could die a tragic death if those in charge of the competitions do not acknowledge their traditional romance.
Wray was hugely disappointed that Town’s Capital One Cup fourth-round clash with Aston Villa was not chosen as one of Sky Sports’ two live matches, with Chelsea’s clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge and Arsenal’s trip to Reading set to be screened during the week beginning October 29.
Though failing to make it onto live television means Swindon will miss out on £120,000 in revenue, Wray is more concerned by a trend which has developed in recent years whereby, even in cup competitions, sponsors and broadcasters favour the big names ahead of matches featuring tales of human interest or potential upsets.
The Robins chief was frustrated that the Chelsea-United tie was picked despite the same fixture having already been scheduled for broadcast on Sky’s ‘Super Sunday’ programme on October 28 - just three days before the Capital One contest in west London - while both the north east derby between Sunderland and Middlesbrough and Villa’s visit to Swindon were overlooked.
And he is fearful that, unless the habit is arrested, the historic significance of knockout tournaments will be lost forever.
He told the Advertiser: “I fully understand the commercial reasons that say Chelsea versus Manchester United is the biggest game in the competition.
“However, when you look at it there is a real danger that cup football is going to die if this is the route that the game continues to take.
“It is a competition already treated with contempt by those clubs at the top of the Premier League who realise the relative importance of getting points in the Premiership, we allow them to treat it in the way they do and yet continue to give them the TV revenue.
“It seems strange.
“Effectively we are going to kill cup football if things are going to remain this way. You’re killing the romance of the cup.
“On the plus side, this means we will probably sell out the County Ground for the game and those fans who are lucky enough to get a ticket will almost certainly see a game played in the true tradition of cup football.”