Blades so switched on to cup, says Lane boss

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DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, says television executives, not footballers, are responsible for tarnishing the reputation of the FA Cup.

Speaking ahead of today’s second-round tie with Port Vale, which sees his predecessor, Micky Adams, return to Bramall Lane for the first time since parting company with United 19 months ago, Wilson launched a staunch defence of the competition’s credentials.

Although the visitors are expected to enjoy a near-3,500- strong following in South Yorkshire, some supporters claim the tournament has lost its prestige in recent years as top-flight clubs focus on the Champions and Premier Leagues.

But Wilson said: “I’ll keep arguing it until the cows come home. This is a great competition for English football.

“People keep on saying it’s been devalued. If it has then it hasn’t been devalued by us.

“It’s the people who put the matches on TV at times that make it tough for fans (to go) who need to ask themselves whether that is the case.

“I’ll tell you now, though, that’s not how people in football look at the cup.

“I can understand the big guns, so to speak, being really concerned about getting into Europe but privately they’ll all tell you they take this one very seriously as it’s a way there too.”

United will bank £27,000 in prize money if they beat a Vale side which is second in League Two having lost only once in 14 games.

Holders Chelsea pocketed around £3.5 million en route to Wembley earlier this year.

Lifting the Champions League trophy a fortnight later, however, is estimated to have pumped around

£42m into the Stamford Bridge coffers.

With leading names such as Arsenal, Manchester United and Rafael Benitez’s side set to enter at the third-round stage, the winners of this afternoon’s clash could be set for a unexpected windfall in tomorrow’s draw.

Wilson said: “We all know how important finance is in this day and age.

“If we can get some good money in that hasn’t been budgeted for then that can only be a good thing.

“The prize money all adds up.

“Whether or not it would help us (in the

transfer window) I don’t know but it certainly couldn’t do any harm.

“The players, though, aren’t interested in any of that.

“They just want to go through anyway.”

With Vale supporters travelling in huge numbers, Adams said: “To have so many following us is fantastic and we don’t want to let them down.

“It’s a terrific show of support but I shouldn’t be surprised because they’re good fans.

“They’ve really bought into this game, and it certainly helps that we’ve got a decent record away from home.

“We’re not going to win the cup, but we’ll try to go as far as we can. It’s a cracking tie that has all the ingredients to be a good game.”

Did You Know? United’s match against Vale was understood to have been given serious consideration for live coverage by broadcasters ESPN and ITV until MK Dons were paired with AFC Wimbledon.