The FA Cup third round draw is always a notable date on the footballing calendar; the Premier League and Championship teams come into the picture, and a handful of non-league teams have a chance to play on some of the most prestigious grounds in the country.
Fans of the Premier League heavyweights looked to avoid an early exit by being drawn against a fellow Premier League club.
For fans of non-league minnows, they looked to gain a potentially significant scalp with a match-up against a footballing giant.
But for many football fans once the draw has been made, their focus turns to an important question – will my team’s fixture be televised?
This is a question met with frustration more often than not – with many fans suggesting that the relative size of the various clubs involved in fixtures has too great a bearing on whether or not the BBC will choose it as one of their televised games for the weekend.
This was the case again on the weekend of the FA Cup third round 2016/17.
European Giants Manchester United have infamously had every one of their FA Cup fixtures televised over the last 11 years, and not all of them considered noteworthy in the context of seasons gone by. This didn’t change for their third round tie against Reading, or their fourth round tie where they hosted Wigan Athletic.
Over the years Liverpool FC has found themselves matched up with the likes of Luton Town, AFC Wimbledon and Oxford United – all of which have produced goals and drama, some would say typical of the ‘magic’ and ‘tradition’ of the FA Cup.
Some would ask why fans would want to watch Premier League clubs compete in the Cup when they can already do this week in week out in league football?
This season the third round draw took place on December 5, with several ‘all prem’ fixtures played on the weekend of January 7 and 8.
There were few upsets, in terms of the results.
However, fans were critical of the decisions to televise many of the fixtures that were considered ‘standard’ in footballing terms, and heads quickly turned to the result of the fourth round draw.
Notable match-ups included a West London derby at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea took on Brentford for the third time in four years.
They met at the same stage back in 2013, when Brentford was still in League One.
They managed to take the Premier League giants to a replay after a 2-2 draw at Griffin Park, before being swept aside 4-0 at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately for them, it was much for straightforward for the current Premier League leaders this time as they hit them for four.
Other notable fixtures included the visit of Watford to The Den to take on Millwall, and League Two vs Premier League as Accrington Stanley visited newly promoted Middlesborough.
Unfortunately for fans of ‘smaller’ clubs, there were few signs of change from the regular favouritism of the ‘bigger sides’.
Many fans again questioned the decision to televise Manchester United’s fixture at home to Wigan, whilst overlooking Leeds United’s trip to non-league Sutton, and Wycombe Wanderers matchup with Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Will the fanbase of the ‘bigger’ clubs continue to have an impact on these decisions?
We will have to wait and see. Fans will continue to make their voices heard.
Featured Image by Dom Fellowes via Flickr CC.