Time to abolish cup-tied rule

April 4, 2008

Defoe is challenged by ShoreySpare a thought for cup-tied Jermain Defoe this weekend, forced to sit on the sidelines when Portsmouth play West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley because of an antiquated rule the authorities should consider changing.

Defoe, who joined Portsmouth from Tottenham Hotspur just before the transfer window closed on January 31, played for his old club against Reading and Manchester United in the third and fourth rounds which ruled him out of the FA Cup for the rest of the season.

He also appeared in 18 Premier League matches for Spurs — but of course is not banned from playing in the same competition for Portsmouth. (One bizarre twist in that move was that because he technically joined Portsmouth from Spurs on a loan deal which was made permanent a few days later, he was not allowed to play against Spurs two weeks ago — but that’s another matter.)

The cup-tied rule was introduced decades ago to stop clubs buying up players who could boost their chances in the later rounds of the competition.

The rule has rarely been waivered, and I can only think of one example when it was. The FA allowed Stan Crowther and Ernie Taylor to play for Manchester United in the FA Cup after the Munich air disaster in 1958 even though both were cup-tied.

But these days, with the transfer window closing at the end of January, clubs are hardly likely to buy players just for the FA Cup. They are buying them for the league.

UEFA also say players who appear for one team in the Champions League or UEFA Cup cannot play for another in the same competition in the same season. Surely though, if you are allowed to play for two clubs in the same league in the same season, logically you should be able to play for two clubs in the same cup competition? (All Things Footie thinks the away goals rule is just as daft.)

I am sure West Brom are delighted Defoe will be on the sidelines at Wembley, but I think he should be leading Pompey’s front line there instead.

Mike Collett, London

PHOTO: Reading’s Nicky Shorey (L) challenges Defoe, then playing for Tottenham, during their FA Cup third round replay, January 15, 2008. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

One comment

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Totally agree mike. The only conceivable reason for keeping the rule is so that players involved through all the rounds get to win a cup and not players who just feature in the latter stages and then grab all the glory. In modern football though, this reasoning is long gone.

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