WATCHING the FA Cup over the weekend confirmed a belief I have long held — that the competition has lost its appeal.

While it still attracts a certain degree of prestige, particularly in the early rounds when it is the exclusive domain of non-league clubs, the time when it was compulsive viewing is long gone.

Third round day used to be one of the most eagerly-anticipated dates on the sporting calendar. But that just isn’t the case any more and it all depends on who you support.

If you’re a fan of a lower league team then the FA Cup is as important to your club as it ever was.

The chance is still there to take on some of the best sides in the land and also swell the club coffers along the way.

But if you follow a Premier League side, the FA Cup is a minor inconvenience and no amount of back-tracking by Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert should persuade otherwise.

When Lambert suggested top-flight clubs could do without the competition, he was merely stating what the majority of leading managers feel. He just shouldn’t have said it in public.

Compared to the financial rewards of staying in the Premier League, the £1.8million for winning the final is small fry. That would keep Wayne Rooney in wages for a few months.

As long as teams don’t want to be in the FA Cup, it can’t be restored to its former glory.