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Dave Kemp: Give FA Cup winners a Champions League place

Sport | Published:

Albion assistant boss Dave Kemp reckons the winners of the FA Cup should be given a Champions League place as a carrot to rekindle the competition.

Kemp was a first-team coach at Wimbledon in 1988 when the Crazy Gang pulled off a famous victory over Liverpool.

He was also Tony Pulis's assistant at Stoke when the Potters reached the final in 2011.

West Brom host Bristol City on Saturday, and thanks to reduced ticket prices, the club have managed to sell more than 20,000 seats for a home third round tie for the first time in 23 years.

But the Baggies routinely get at least 23,000 fans to each home game in the league.

Kemp reckons the Premier League has devalued the FA Cup.

"Let's be honest, in '88 it was a bigger competition than it is in 2016," he said.

"The FA Cup final at that time was probably the biggest game of the year, but football's changed.

"The country stopped on cup final Saturday because it was on all day.

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"It came on at 9am in the morning, interviewing teams at the hotel.

"It set the standard for what football's become now, where they talk about it all day long.

"That was the one day of the year in those days where they did talk about it all day long, whereas now it's all day every day anyway."

Unhappy at the Premier League for organising a round of midweek games directly after this Saturday's third round, Kemp reckons it forces Albion into fielding a weakened team.

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And the 62-year-old is unashamedly from an era that valued the competition with more regard.

"It was a dream come true to win the FA Cup," said Kemp.

"Wimbledon, the whole thing was a fairytale really.

"I know they made a whole TV programme about it recently but there's two ways to tell it.

"It's either a fairytale or the bad guys against the good guys and they went for the bad guys, Fashanu and Vinnie Jones beating everybody up and all that business.

"But it's actually a fairy story.

"Because it was a non-league club that went from the Fourth Division to the First Division and in the first season up finished sixth with this little non-league ground. And then they went on and won the FA Cup in '88.

"They only came into the league in '77 and then won the FA Cup in '88. It's a fairytale but they don't tell it like that."

Like many people, Kemp was aghast when holders Manchester United decided not to compete in the FA Cup in the 1999/2000 season.

He said: "They just won the treble. Of course you want to be in the FA Cup, why would you want to give that up?

"Their first thoughts should have been we want to do the treble again next year."

Now the focus for many of the bigger teams is getting into the Champions League, Kemp reckons the only way to return the FA Cup to its former glory is to give the winners one of the places in Europe's elite competition.

"That's exactly what they should do," he said. "But that won't happen."

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