Arsenal

An Open Letter To The Football League Re: The Carling Cup

Our Cup Runneth Under

Sirs,

A few nights ago as some of you may all ready be aware, the League Cup or Carling Cup 3rd Round got underway.

I was wondering where you guys stood in relation to Clubs in this competition effectively ‘throwing matches’ by fielding sides that were essentially second string or reserve in standard?

Now don’t get me wrong. We all know that the Carling Cup has become the poor brother in law of the domestic trophies. No club in their right mind actually sets it’s sights on winning it at the start of a season, but by the same token, surely those taking part have to make a commitment to field teams that are representative of their usual league teams? And all those involved a commitment to improve the perceived value of the competition?

Several of Wednesday’s fixtures were nothing more than reserve games at Category A prices. And I guess that’s where my gripe truly lies. On several levels tens of thousands of decent football fans were ripped off.

Take the Scunthorpe Utd vs. Manchester Utd game. My working knowledge of the Scunny Men is limited, but imagine they fielded a side comprised of the best they had available. Manchester United played an experimental side to put it politely. I suppose in that instance the 9,077 that watched it had a good enough time as your average Old Trafford reserve would walk into almost any team in the country.

At White Hart Lane, the home manager made 10 (ten!) changes to his last Premier League picks and there were prizes for those who could spot a player they knew who wasn’t in the crowd. The visitors Arsenal matched Tottenham’s plan and they too played a team quite unrecognisable from one that they might ordinarily field in the Premiership. You will of course be aware that their manager, Arsene Wenger choose to take his touchline ban for this match. Surely that spoke volumes on how little regard he had for that match.

The resulting game was fantastic in terms of a Reserves match, but again this wasn’t advertised nor charged on the gate as one. It was probably more to do with the thrashing, but Tottenham fans exited the stadium in huge numbers and some time before the final whistle blew the place looked like there had been a bomb scare.

Chelsea vs Newcastle was described on Twitter by several well respected journalists as a fantastic Reserve game. Chelsea, who have been quite frankly whalloping all and sundry by huge margins ended up losing to a Newcastle side who were recently beaten by Blackpool!

Manchester City were beaten away by West Brom. The travelers here too were guilty of treating the competition with contempt. The gate at this game was only 10,418 so at least fewer fans got ripped off in this instance.

It seems apparent to me that those teams who could get away with it did. An example of those who couldn’t get away with it being Aston Villa. They lack the depth that say Manchester United, Chelsea or Tottenham seem to have and they played a pretty much full strength side.

So you have my list of guilty parties and I want to know what action you deem fit to take in response to it. Is the FA a coiled serpent waiting to pounce or is it a dusty, disinterested gang of poly-mix blazers shuffling with it’s eyes averted from confrontation on its way to another complimentary 3 course meal and free bar?

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