Ex-Sunderland defender Gary Bennett says football clubs prioritise the money of the Premier League, but insists the fans would love nothing more than a trip to Wembley.

Bennett, who made 369 appearances for Sunderland, was part of their 1992 FA Cup final line up, the last major final the club has reached.

Now, only a cup replay against Everton next week, stands between the Black Cats and a trip to the home of English football.

The BBC Newcastle commentator said: “I think everybody knows that the League comes before the FA Cup and League Cup due to the money in the Premier League at the present moment, there’s no comparison really.

“From a club’s point of view, it’s all about money.

“If you’re talking about a club finishing maybe fifth, sixth or seventh then I think they’d rather take that than being in the cup because of the money which is involved, compared to what you would win if you were in the FA Cup.

“When you look at the money in the Premier League it’s their priority. If they play their strongest team in the cup and they pick up injuries it can make a dent to their position.”

But Bennett believes the fans would relish the prospect of a trip to Wembley:

“It would be massive for the fans, I think it just shows the amount of people who are queuing up for tickets and looking forward to the game at the Stadium of Light.

“The FA Cup has got a special place in Sunderland supporters’ hearts.

“Every club likes a good cup run, especially Sunderland. If they get through the Everton game, the semi-final is, of course, played at Wembley.

“It would be a great day for the football club and a good day out for the supporters as at the Stadium of Light the fans are like a 12th man.”

Gary Bennett watches on as Michael Thomas' shot loops over Sunderland keeper Tony Norman for the opening goal of the 1992 FA Cup Final.

Sunderland are still on the hunt for their first piece of major silverware since their famous 1973 triumph and Bennett believes this could be their year:

“They can go all the way. When you get to this stage, people start talking beyond the Quarter-finals and they’re also looking to win the cup.

“It’s a case of who handles the occasion and if they get the rub of the green, they can go all the way.

“You’re looking at getting through the quarter-finals, then the semi-finals and then obviously when you get to the final it’s all about the day. Nothing’s impossible.

“When you look at the people who have won the FA Cup, it’s usually one of the top four or five teams that are in there so it would be good to get somebody outside that group into the final or even win it.

“Martin O’Neill will be looking at the competition now he’s in the quarter-finals and he’ll be thinking they’ve got a great opportunity.”

Sunderland’s Quarter-final replay with Everton takes place on Tuesday March 27 with the semi-final set to take place on April 14.

 

 
 

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