Colchester MP slams FA

By Derek DavisChief Football WriterA MOTION condemning the Football Association for halving its early round FA Cup prize-money, has been tabled by Colchester MP Bob Russell.

By Derek Davis

Chief Football Writer

A MOTION condemning the Football Association for halving its early round FA Cup prize-money, has been tabled by Colchester MP Bob Russell.

The life-long Colchester United supporter, has joined forces with Liberal Democrat colleague Adrian Sanders to officially lodge their protest in parliament.

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The duo have complained that the first-round payment is now £12,500, compared to £20,000 last season, and the second-round prize money is £15,000, half that of last season's winnings of £30,000.

The third-round money remains the same at £50,000 while the eventually winners will pocket £2m.

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More than 20 MPs from different parties have so far signed the motion, which urges the Government Minister with responsibility for projects involving the FA to 'use their influence to encourage a more equitable distribution of resources with the nation's national game'.

FA spokesman Andrin Cooper pointed out that the FA Board, whose members include U's chairman Peter Heard and Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, voted to pay more grants directly to clubs and to increase the prize-money in the FA Trophy and FA Vase, competed for by non-league clubs.

The FA Cup Prize Fund has reduced from £12,653,000 to £10,698,250. This still represents a five-fold increase from three years ago.

The prize fund for the FA Trophy has been increased from £225,000 to £631,000 and the FA Vase prize fund from £153,000 to £350,000. This increase ensures that the effect on the non-league clubs in minimised, and the prestige of their competitions enhanced.

Cooper added: “The league clubs preferred to have grants paid directly rather than rely on winning or losing their cup matches. The FA board agreed to allow £6m to be paid in grants and that had to be made up somehow. It would have been unfair to reduce prize money in the later rounds as those clubs had not benefited from the grants.”

Russell argues: “If the FA says it has to reduce the overall size of payment of prize money because it has less to hand out, then it should make the cuts from the fat cat big clubs and not the bread and butter smaller clubs, not just those in the Second and Third Divisions but also the non-league sides who battle through the early rounds.”

Russell's team Colchester United have failed to reach the second round of the FA Cup in the past five years, but he said: “While the cut in the prize money may seem academic for Colchester United, for in recent years getting past the first round has proved a difficult task, we are due for a cup run - and should the U's reach the third round this season the club would lose out on £22,500.

“For Colchester United, that is a lot of money - for Manchester United it is petty cash.”

The eventual winners of the FA Trophy will receive £50,000, while just getting past the first round would fetch £1,800.

If AFC Sudbury, for example, were to go one better this year than last season and win the FA Vase, they would pocket £15,000 while winning through to the second round proper would earn clubs at least £600.

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