The FA Cup was on display at Wembley FC this weekend, but the famous old trophy wasn’t the only surprise guest at their FA Cup tie with Royston FC.
FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick was an interested spectator at the match, one of 203 fixtures that took place in the Extra Preliminary Round last weekend.
Club Website was also at the game and took the opportunity to catch up with the man in charge of football in England from the grassroots right up to the national side.
So what brought the Chief Executive of the FA to Wembley FC on a Saturday afternoon in August?
“The Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup is always an interesting round to come to” said Barwick. “I try to get to a game every round. If I’m physically in the country I actually do.
“So, although in May I’m normally at the other Wembley up the road here, today is a good opportunity to start at the other end of it [the competition].
“Now I don’t imagine the two teams we’re watching at the moment have aspirations to win the tournament, but it’s the pure uniqueness of the fact that they are in the same tournament as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and holders Portsmouth that make it as special as it is.”
So was he at the game as a football fan or because the FA Chief Exec needs to be visible in and around games in England?
“I’m here for two reasons. You hit on the first one – I’m a football supporter, so it’s not difficult for me to come and watch a game of football at any level. My own local team that I go to four or five times a year is Hampton & District, so I’m used to seeing football at all levels. I have a son who plays on a Sunday morning in the park so I go and see that as well.
“But I do absolutely believe that it’s very important that the hierarchy of the Football Association are seen to be supporting the game being played at every level. I have attended a game in August in the FA Cup every year I’ve been doing this job and I just think this is part of it.”
The publicity surrounding the early rounds of the FA Cup has certainly increased this year, with new broadcasters ITV and Setanta helping make people aware that the tournament is already underway.
“Absolutely, there are people who believe the cup starts in January, there are people who believe it starts in November, but I happen to know it starts in the middle of August.
“Our previous [FA Cup] broadcasters did a fantastic job, but our new broadcasters have brought a new appetite with them and will obviously want to make their mark. Their mark is by wanting to be involved in the competition from the first kick and that’s terrific.”
The full interview with Brian Barwick, including his thoughts on the Respect programme, Fabio Capello and the England team, will be published in the September edition of The Club House, Club Website’s monthly newsletter.
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