The Last of the Luddites

For today’s FA Cup Second Qualifying Round draw the FA finally moved a step towards the 21st Century by tweeting the details of the draw via their @EmiratesFACup Twitter account as it was happening. Well sort of!

THE FA are to be applauded for finally taking these baby steps into the use of social media instant communication to share the excitement of draws in the Preliminary and Qualifying Rounds of the competition. Thousands of fans of non-league clubs have long been clamouring for some visibility of these draws only to be met by stubborn silence by the FA.

So it’s to be welcomed that the FA have tentatively moved forward in the communication of Cup draws, but this initial foray wasn’t without its challenges. The draw was scheduled to be completed soon after mid-day and was not planned to be published on the FA website until one hour later. Clubs were to be informed slightly ahead of that, but in the meantime the draw was to be shared via Twitter.

Thousands of fans of clubs from Steps two to six took advantage of their lunch breaks to see which team their club had been drawn against. The Twitter feed set it up nicely with a tantalising anticipatory tweet saying the draw was about to happen and then we waited and waited. Memes were produced, frustrations were aired, and doubts began to form. Finally, though, the first three matches were tweeted and everyone became excited again.

But there were long gaps between each tweet, and whilst this added a little to the excitement, it soon became quite annoying. The tweets took so long to produce that not long after half the draw had been communicated via Twitter, the full draw had been published on the FA website and club Twitter accounts began to share the news. The @EmiratesFACup account continued to tweet the ties for another hour until complete, oblivious to the fact that everyone had by now transferred their attention to the website.

To be fair to the person running the Twitter account, it was imperative that the tweets were 100% accurate. Not for him/her the luxury of laughing off a typo or a mistake. No, any error of pairing two teams together incorrectly would have been seized upon by the Twitterati and the FA berated for yet another cock-up. It was critical that the details of each and every tie were communicated correctly and that the necessary time was taken to ensure that they were, so the FA is to be congratulated for doing it with such rigour. However, an improvement in the process could be achieved by linking the Twitter feed with the publication time-line and run Tweets in parallel with the draw itself.

In an ideal world these draws would be screened ‘live’ via Periscope or on the FA’s own Facebook page, but until that time maybe the next round could be drawn in co-ordination with the Twitter feed. One tie at a time being tweeted as the draw is made, waiting until the previous tie had been tweeted before drawing the next one, and the full draw not published on the website until the final tie has been communicated. It’d be a small improvement only, Nirvana being the ability to watch the draw live, but if Twitter is the short term way forward then this should ensure a much smoother communication process for the 3rd and 4th Qualifying Rounds.

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