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Jan 6, 2012

Bates backs docked points

Leeds chairman Ken Bates wants clubs who play weakened teams in the FA Cup to be docked points, and has accused the FA of failing to be "strong enough" in upholding the competition that used to be tagged 'the world's oldest and best knockout competition'.

• ESPN Fan Films: The FA Cup journey

Leeds play Arsenal in one of the FA Cup's third round's glamour ties on Monday night (live on ESPN) and Bates made it clear he wants the Gunners, the team he played for as a junior, to field their first team and not their reserves.

That might sound odd as it would weaken Leeds' chances of an upset, but Bates insists that he wants to win the tie against a formidable Arsenal team, not Arsene Wenger's usual "reserve and youth" side, no matter how many internationals that might still boast.

Bates, who for years was the chairman of the FA's Challenge Cup committee, told ESPNsoccernet: "The FA is not strong enough in upholding their own prestigious cup competition. First of all it has to be respected by the participants if it is to regain the respect it once had throughout Europe and the world.

"The idea of having a 25-man squad, and to select a side from within that, doesn't wash with me. I want to see the FA take a number of sanctions against clubs who play weakened teams, they could fine them, but I would like the ultimate punishment which is the docking of points.

"They could even choose not to nominate the offending teams for Europe, because the rules still state that it is the prerogative of the FA to nominate teams for Europe.

"You might not have heard of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but they have a rule there that the majority of the first team have to play the majority of the game. That is the way it should be and if anyone steps out of line they should be severely punished.

"If you don't really want to field your first team in the FA Cup, I say, then don't play in it, resign from the competition."

The FA has been at pains to uphold the prestige of the competition in recent years and held a long review of how best to reshape it. But Bates is not in favour of abolishing replays or tampering with the competition with seedings or any other gimmicks; he wants it to maintain its strength by ensuring clubs are at their strongest when they compete.

However, even if it meant his own team missed out, Bates doesn't want the winners entered into the Champions League.

"The fourth club in the Premier League has shown the consistently throughout the season to deserve its place in the Champions League,'' he said. "By contrast the FA Cup is still a lottery and you never know who might end up winning it, perhaps a club ill equipped to be in the Champions League.

"Why would you take it away from the fourth club in the league... for me that would prostitute the league."

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