The great FA Cup giveaway

I remarked earlier it had been a slow news day, but perhaps I’m not giving enough credit to the chatter surrounding our second round tie with Oldham Athletic. I blogged earlier in the week about our perceptions of the game, and how they had changed from recent seasons. I think the attitude towards the game from the club’s perspective has changed as well.

The news that the club have decided to retain cheaper admission prices is a real crowd pleaser, and the insight given by Kevin Cooke to the Lincolnshire Echo was superb. Kevin not only explained how they could afford it for a game that is sure to be a big draw anyway, but he also explained how a larger crowd will benefit the club’s image.

“Our intention is to keep the same prices for the Oldham game. Our focus then will be to get as a big a gate as we can into Sincil Bank to support us. We make money because with a cup game, even though we’ve got to give half the gate receipts to the away side, everyone who comes to the game pays. With a league game, we’ve got around 1,300 season ticket holders, the VIPs and executive box holders. By the time you take those off the gate, only about half the people in the ground have actually paid on the day. The actual amount of cash that we take from a cup match, even with reduced ticket prices, is higher than we would take from a league game. Then if you add the prize money onto that, it makes it a very worthwhile afternoon.”

With speculation that almost every penny could go into the pocket of manager Danny Cowley it makes it a very worthwhile afternoon for all Imps supporters. We haven’t experienced crowds and atmosphere at Sincil Bank like we are doing now in almost ten years, and big cup matches in front of 5,000+ will just add more momentum to an already thriving football club. A win would add even more momentum, and crucially even more folding money. What better Christmas present than the third round and a few grand to throw at a new face if we need one.

Of course that could be considered a lot more than just a few grand should the TV cameras decide to put in an appearance. Cooke was excited by the prospect in his Echo interview.

“If it’s on TV and we can get 5,000 or 6,000 to the game, it would be brilliant. If we’re on TV, we want the cameras to show lots of occupied seats, not empty ones because that wouldn’t do the club’s image any good.”

Imagine if we got the plum live Monday night slot, not only a £50k+ windfall but also exposure for hosting the cup draw. It would be a really special night at Sincil Bank, but is it likely?

I’ve been informed that the televised games won’t be confirmed until after the replays conclude, given that there’s a possibility that a club will pull of a giant-kill, and then be selected for TV on the back of that. I would imagine looking at the rights that there will be three ties initially selected for television, with two replays to follow.

race-for-life-and-braintree-082

If only the cameras pointed at the full stand with people singing in it.

 

I’ve looked at the draw, and the possible ties they could pick from. An awful lot does depend on a smaller club winning a replay. If Dover *spits* beat Cambridge, or Brackley beat Gillingham I think there’s a strong chance they’ll feature those games. Both matches have their replays on BT Sports and I could see the broadcaster wanting to follow their story. It’s how we ended up with a TV game against Northwich, they’d put out Charlton live on the BBC. I would imagine a Curzon Ashton and Bury tie would be televised as well if it happens, they’re local rivals and it would be the obvious choice.

If we take the ‘ifs and buts’ out of it then I can see Bolton and Sheff Utd being on the Beeb. It’s just the sort of ‘big time charlie’ games they’d go for, two former Premier League clubs battling it out in the early stages. Macclesfield might get picked as the only non-league side to beat league opposition in the last round, and if Bristol Rovers and Taunton both get through that would have some appeal as well.

I’m going to stand by my earlier prediction that we will be ignored by the TV companies again. I may be wrong, I often am, but I suspect they’ll be looking for the teams they’ve already featured, or for those local derbies that you dn’t normally see. I don’t want to pour water on all the excitement, but I think the best hope we’ve got for a televised game is to beat Oldham and pull Chelsea or Arsenal out of the hat. It’s the best hope we have of signing Sim Akinola as well.

The point is that we’re in a luxurious position. The league campaign is going well and it’s comfortable to know we’re looking at the FA Cup as a means to grow that quest for league football. Danny can talk about exposure and the magic of the cup all he wants, but we all know that the FA Cup is all about the pounds and pence, more so than ever before. The money swimming around TV deals is frightening, but the FA Cup is one competition where we are pitted against the behemoths of world football, Liverpool, Man Utd and the like. It’s the one competition where we can have a feasible chance of getting a slice of their cake, and that must be number on priority.

Although it’s not the biggest match we could have got, Lincoln v Oldham is something to be excited about. I used to get goose bumps whenever I ran out as Poacher in front of 4,500+ fans, and I’m desperate to finally be part of that throbbing mass of excited and expectant fans for a change. Every match at the Bank feels like a Football League game this season (apart from the away support, obviously), and for that to carry on into the FA Cup is brilliant for everyone. The fact I’m only going to have to pay a £10 to be part of it feels like, as a paying customer, I’m being rewarded in some way by the club.

In years gone by prices went up if we were top five, they went up if it was a game against a local rival and they’d almost certainly be held firm for cup matches. This season it feels to me like the club actually value the fans. I’ve spoke about their social media persona, about the openness of the managers and staff, and when it comes down to a chance to make a good impression with the fans, they seize it again. I have massive respect for Kevin Cooke because he has been open and honest about pricing in the media, and because he (and the rest of the board) are rewarding fans by saving them money on cup games. It’s also very clever because it is a cost saving initiative that season ticket holders benefit from as well.

Essentially the club have been given another opportunity to make a statement of intent and they’ve done it. I think they deserve praise for that.

Right that’s it until the first weekend in December, no more FA Cup talk. Now lets go and get seven points from the next three games. Do that and it could be a very Merry December well before the 25th.

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