Time to prioritise the FA Cup?

Charlton are a Championship club and the season is going nowhere fast

The question is whether the FA cup is really worth bothering with? For a club like Charlton there is a risk of extra games and injuries, on top of fixture congestion for apparently little financial reward in the early rounds. Update: £1M banked £2M to play for!

Due to recent postponements after very wet weather and drainage issues adversely affecting the Valley pitch, Charlton can actually do with an extra fixture or two to keep the team playing and hopefully some wins. And give the new owner more time to appraise the squad.

The team's league form could do with a confidence boost in its quest to stay in the Championship. Also as luck would have it Charlton have been given some winnable fixtures in the FA Cup first against Oxford United in the 3rd round which they won 0-3 after a 2-2 draw was replayed; and now against Huddersfield Town in the 4th round coming up on Saturday. This insted of meeting a big Premiership club early on which of course that can bring its own immediate rewards.

But what of the finances of a cup run, what is it really worth? For the games, prizes and possible TV money.

A quick search on the interweb reveals details about prize money and TV money and suddenly the cup is looking a lot more more attractive.

  • £6,700  for TV highlights in every round, not much but it’s a start
  • £67,500 for wining the 3rd round, £95,000 for winning the 4th round, for more see our table below

Looking a bit further ahead we estimate around £3m for winning the 6th round - which Charlton have not done in considerable time.

This consists of:

    • nearly £700,000 prize money for winning all the games up to the 6th round and a minimum of £450,000 for losing semi final at Wembley
    • £600,000 45% share of the gates guestimation from the 3rd - 6th round matches

and perhaps £800,000 for a share of the Wembley recipts

  • £1,260,000  Approximate total  

All in, a cup run to the Wembley Semi-Final could add up to £3M which is over half the annual deficit of Charlton Athletic. Or a 25% kick on the annual revenue.


So how risky would it be to make investment needed to progress?

To establish this we need to look at the odds of progression

  • Estimate the odds of winning each round and multiply it all through, in our workings we estimated a 45% chance of winning at Huddersfield.
  • We can argue all day about the precise odds and we have no idea of the 5th and 6th round draw just yet (although we will know about the 5th round before the window closes) but we have estimated Charlton’s chances of reaching the Semi-final at 3%, before the Oxford replay it was probably 2% and if we beat Huddersfield then the chances might improve to 8%.

So if we multiply all those odds together against the potential revenue the value of Charlton’s cup run whether it ends on Saturday or at Wembley has a business value of £452,000

We calculate this is up from £236,000 since Oxford simply because the chances of prizes, TV revenue and gate money in each round have just increased.

The point is that because this value increases to nearly £800,000 should Charlton reach the 5th round by knocking out Huddersfield, and should they get a decent draw it would perhaps be the time to invest and perhaps sign a striker for example and maximise our chances of a win.

For years clubs have prioritised the league whether they are at the top or the bottom simply because the rewards are so much bigger, and there are other arguments of the value of a cup run. E.g. The glory, and the fans living in hope I hear you say - many Charlton fans will remember the visit to Manchester Utd in 1994 not least because as the away team CAFC sold all of its 10,000 allocation and took the lead; And to paraphrase what Chris Powell said yesterday: a cup run may be just what his team (and the fans) need right now.

However what we’ve tried to show in this article is how a cup run can pay off financially and pay for an additional striker and the risks involved like needing to sign a loan player to cover for injury. It might even help Charlton’s league form and assist the development of a plan to improve its squad over the summer.

The cup is potentially worth a lot of money which would be very significant to the club at this stage, adding as much as 25% to the commercial revenues. Building the revenues is much more creative than cutting expenditure and might be the quickest way to getting the club back on track. Plus it may even generate interest among lapsed or new fans which can't be bad can it?

To Charlton fans, the bottom line is their recent cup record can't get any worse! Time to book that train to Huddersfield..?

Odds/Financial calculations after Oxford match