The FA Cup, the oldest and most celebrated football tournament in the world, is dead – mourn it's passing.
Since 1872, England's cup final has been played on a Saturday of its own: set-aside as one of the planet's biggest events for both sports fans and gamblers alike. A TV audience of billions, and a betting market to match, looked on this May as Chelsea and Portsmouth battled for the most iconic and respected trophy in the long history of sport.
But not any more. This coming season, almost a century and a half of history has been swept aside by the English Football Association, with the game being scheduled for a regular Saturday during the Premier League season.
On May 14 2011, as the teams stride out for the pomp and circumstance of the final of the The Football Association Challenge Cup; as they line up for the singing of Abide With Me and God Save The Queen; Sunderland will be playing Wolves in what is already looking like a relegation dog-fight.
As His Royal Highness Prince William, president of the Football Association, greets the teams and officials beneath the fluttering Union Flags of Wembley, a small hardy bunch of Fulham fans will be making their way to the likely bore-draw at Birmingham City.
And, whereas when The FA bulldozed Wembley a few years back, a new gleaming stadium arose Phoenix-like from the ashes; this is it for it's prestige trophy.
Silverware and a place in the history books are these days considered mundane, alongside the massive TV contracts that garland the arrival of three more points in the Premier League. Romance and heritage count for nothing, when Manchester City are fighting for fourth place and a berth in the money-spinning broadcast supermarket of the following season's Champions League.
This ultimate snub is the latest in a series that have seen long-standing FA Cup rules and traditions modified beyond recognition. Replays have been all-but axed; key calendar dates like the famous third round have been shuttled around; finals for several years were even played outside of England; and on one occasion the contest was once played without the nation's biggest footballing names because Manchester United were on a FIFA promotional tour.
What made The Cup Final stand out above all other matches was it's uniqueness, it's untouchability. Now relegated to the level of a week-in week-out fixture, it has lost all value and virtue. The FA have robbed the people of England of their own history, and it's leaders should be tried in the court of public opinion for this great treason.