By Matt Barlow for the Daily Mail
Published: 22:30 GMT, 6 January 2020 | Updated: 22:30 GMT, 6 January 2020
Arsenal and Leeds closed another bruising round of fixtures for the FA Cup as weakened teams and empty seats provided evidence of more clubs than ever with other priorities.
Every year, the third round becomes a victim of its place in the schedule — the final course of the festive feast, too much to stomach for a modern game awash with the wisdom of sports science and data analysis.
The players need more rest, they say, and managers might overrule this sort of advice if there was something in it for them, but there isn’t. Louis van Gaal and Antonio Conte won it and were sacked before another ball was kicked.
There were plenty of empty seats over the weekend during the third-round ties of the FA Cup
Perhaps the most alarming modern trend is that an increasing number of Championship clubs have taken to treating it as a training exercise for the squad players. Why throw everything at it only to be picked off at a later date by Manchester City or Liverpool reserves?
That seems to be the mindset of many clubs, who don’t live in hope of the transformational windfall from a live televised tie.
Better to heed the warnings in the hope that