The FA gets itself into a muddle. What are the chances of that?

by Tony Attwood

I have often railed against the FA for getting things wrong.  For example throughout last season when Arsenal were the holders of the FA Cup, the FA’s official site refused to accept this, having a picture of Liverpool on its front page and a list of winners that was completely out of date.

Likewise I have constantly asked them for details of how much money was given to the victims of the Grenfall Tower fire, after money was collected from everyone who went to the Charity Shield game that was supposedly dedicated to supporting those victims.  Answer came there none – not to me personally in response to my enquiry, and not to the media that often talked about the FA and its charity work in glowing terms.

Then last weekend the FA’s Continental Cup started up – and Untold of course had a report from Andrew on Arsenal’s team in the competition.

What I then tried to do was put a summary of results after Andrew’s report, but couldn’t because the list of results on the FA’s site made no sense at all.

Eventually on the official FA web page for the competition a note appeared saying “The competition begins with a round-robin group stage with 22 teams split across four groups. If a group match is drawn it will go straight to penalties (two points for a penalty win). The top two clubs in each group advance.”

Which is great except that if you go to the relevant page not only does it seem to default to 2014, leaving the baffled reader (and OK I know I am easily baffled) to find the right button to push to indicate that actually yes I do want this year’s results, but the games that ended in draws have no reference at all to the penalties or what the score finally was.

Now it appears it was not just me that got confused but also the Guardian.  Mind you they spoil their complaint with the comment “It is odd enough that a cup competition has ushered in a new season but its format meant confusion reigned supreme.”

Well, it’s not really that odd is it?  I mean Scottish football has done this since I was a child (and that’s a long time ago) and still does start with the league cup.  But then, maybe the Guardian doesn’t have any readers in Scotland.  But anyway, Hamilton Accies played four matches described by them as “League Cup Group” games before getting near to a Ladbrokes Premiership game.

Anyway, it turns out it is three for a win and two points for a win on penalties – exactly the same as we had in the pre-season games we played in the whateveritwascalled overseas competition.

Sometime after the conclusion of the games I gave up trying to get the scores for Untold and left the matter but the Guardian, although not familiar with Scottish footie did continue and says, the “FA seemed confused by its own competition, with the group tables on its website showing three points awarded for a win regardless of penalties. Even after a Monday morning update, Sheffield United, who beat Aston Villa 2-1 in normal time, sat bottom of their group with no points.”

So it wasn’t just me which makes a change

There are other oddities like having Reading and Bristol City put in the northern group.  But one more bonus point to the Guardian in following the demise of Doncaster Belles whose financial problems have taken them ever lower in the women’s game.

But as the Guardian points out, the crowds are going down.  The FA has a Gameplan for Growth, but I am not too sure many people are holding their breath given that it is the FA that is running it.  Not least because there is still no official website to tell us what the actual final outcomes were for games that ended in a draw in the first round.

Still, at least the FA Cup website is no longer telling us that Liverpool are the cup holders.  Shame though they missed out on Mr Wenger becoming the all-time record holder for wins by a manager ever.  But that’s the FA for you.  If it’s Arsenal, best keep it quiet.