Reuters Soccer Blog
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Spare 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.
So Kevin Fylan has poured scorn on this season’s FA Cup, saying romance was “the last word” he would choose to describe what’s happening in the competition. Well Kev, as we prepare for this weekend’s semi-finals, let me say I couldn’t disagree more.
I’ll admit I’m something of a footballing Luddite, one of those old-fashioned fans who laments the fact that the days are gone when clubs like Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Everton and Aston Villa won league titles. The days when supporters had a genuine affinity with players. The days when Sunderland, Southampton and West Ham could win the FA Cup.