Is the romance of cup football dead?

By Lee Ryder on Feb 20, 07 01:02 PM

We may well be victims of our own European success but just what type of crowd will you be anticipating for the second leg of the UEFA Cup round of 32 against Zulte Waregem?

At 3-1 you could say it's game over with all eyes on the last 16 against AZ Alkmaar or Fenerbahce.

But on the other hand isn't this what being in Europe is all about?

Playing an obscure team from a little village in Belgium is pretty unique isn't it?

And surely United's fine tradition of cups with six FA Cups and one Fairs Cup on the honours list, albeit decades ago, mean we should have a bit more romance when it comes to knockouts.

Firstly United have a great chance of a win against the Belgians, the fans get the chance to see a team from the continent come to Toon and with a number of fringe players bound to get their chance, there is the chance to see the stars of the future.

However, with ticket prices so high these days fans have to budget for a long season and the argument is always what would you rather miss?

Or what sounds better, where were you the day we beat Zulte Waregem? Or where were you when we beat Arsenal?

Then there is the fact that Middlesbrough's low crowds in Europe at times last term and the season before, 9,436 for instance against the mighty Litex Lovech at the Riverside, earned them quite a bit of stick in the local rivalry stakes.

So are some people being hypocritical when it comes to laughing at Boro, then not turning up against the Belgians?

The debate is a big one and the fact Newcastle get huge crowds for almost every game shows that overall the club are right up there in Europe and the world for the best supporters on the planet.

However, it isn't just the UEFA Cup, for years now both the Carling and FA Cup have resulted in a dip in attendances.

But after the recent game with Birmingham in the cup Rob Lee told the Chronicle he was shocked to see so many empty seats.

And what is your gut reaction the minute a wayward shot by a Toon players gets stuck amongst a row of empty grey seats and the cameraman has fun filming the ball boy attempting to retrieve it?


Ian Teasdale said:

The ticket prices are to much NUFC would rather have 20,000 at 20 quid a head than half the ticket price to fill the ground.
Even the Mackems give away free or nearly free tickets just to fill the ground.Its all about the perception of making more money. 25,000 at 20 quid a head is the same amount as 50,000 at 10 quid a head,Thats not to mention the fact that its on Channel 5,Ok its better to be at the ground but European football takes a lot of 20 quids in a season,and thats just the home matches.

Mr Michael Wears said:

The board of directors beware, the fans are sick of being taken for a ride.
Its on the TV, So youve taken that money, your track record over the last few years has not been great for the way you treat fans.
Your tract of thought "they will allways turn up" could be coming to an end.
Ignore it at your peril.

Paul O'Neil said:

I can totally understand why there might be a lower crowd a St James' Park, with not only us being 3-1 up and the tie looking already won but the fact that it is being shown live on national television. But considering all this you can not bring into the fact how much the ticket prices are, I'm a firm believer that it is time that premiership teams brought there prices down (especially London clubs!). But only 2 weeks ago Wigan were commended on bringing there prices down to the £20-£25 mark, but isn't that the same value of a ticket on Thursday night?

This is also a great opportunity to all those so called "fans" to get out of your armchair and support the lads- who knows with a bit of luck there might be a fantastic performance and a few goals!

The reason why Newcastle fans have been such amazing fans for decades is that we have been going since we were taken as kids by our parents and their's before them, and i'm worried that at this moment in time we might just be the last generation to do so. So please get the kids in their strips and get them to the match because there is nothing quite like being there rather than watching it on TV.

And one final point to all the season ticket holders who will stay in the house and watch it on TV - will you still want to watch it on TV if we get to Glasgow in the final? Becasue there is less than 14,000 tickets to go round!

oxboy said:

Too much football, too poor quality, too high prices, clubs too greedy? Who knows. Give it a few years with congestion charges and road pricing and see how many empty seats and away supporters there are then.
Maybe we are all doomed...... doomed I tell you!!!!!

caren said:

Aaah but is 25,000+ really that bad a crowd, or is it our high expectations of crowds at SJP. Most clubs would be more then happy to get 25,000 for a game which is on tv and where they are virtually through to the next round. Its just because our stadium is so big, that it makes it look such a poor turnout


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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