FA Cup forced to evolve once again but remains a touch of reassuring normality

The annals of FA Cup history will not carry an asterisk next to the name of the 2020/21 winners.

There will be no official nod to the health crisis playing havoc with football and one of its most iconic competitions.

What if the worst came to the worst and ties in rounds leading up to the final had to be forfeited?

The name on the trophy would still be engraved as deeply as any other.

Chelsea won the FA Cup in 2000 and that triumph is no different from any of their seven other successes.

Despite the furore at the time, few remember that holders Manchester United did not take part in that season’s competition.

So no-one is going to dwell on the fact some teams had to play the kids in some games in the 2020/21 edition.

Who will win this year's FA Cup?
Who will win this year’s FA Cup?

After all, since when, scandalously, have the majority of Premier League and Championship sides gone full-strength in the early stages of their cup campaigns?

Covid means Derby County have to send a young second string to Chorley on Saturday but Wayne Rooney was probably never going to field a bona fide first choice eleven anyhow.

Things are not ideal, to state the blindingly obvious.

No Rooney on the touchline, no senior players at all for Derby on Saturday

Drawing the fixtures for the fourth round and the fifth round at the same time is hardly in keeping with FA Cup tradition.

But FA Cup tradition has been an evolving quality for a long time now. We’ve had draws made when ties have yet it be played for a while.

As the grim Covid statistics roll in day after day, there is no telling how this football season will pan out.

It goes without saying public health relegates a sport to an incidental.

But the Premier League is ploughing on as it falls into the category of an elite competition.

Well, there is no more elite competition than the grand, old FA Cup.

In these dark times, we cling to small symbols of reassuring normality.

And there is nothing more thrillingly normal than a mighty, rich club such as Spurs scrapping with part-timers on a brute of a pitch on a filthy January day.

Nothing more thrillingly normal than the FA Cup being raised towards a Wembley sky in May.

That is why, in whatever form, the show is going on.

Should the FA Cup have been scrapped this season? Have your say in the comments.

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