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Replays in FA Cup scrapped from next season

Published:Friday | April 19, 2024 | 12:10 AM
 The FA Cup trophy is seen before the English FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, Saturday, June 3, 2023.
The FA Cup trophy is seen before the English FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, Saturday, June 3, 2023.

LONDON, England (AP):

Replays in the FA Cup – for so long a big money-maker and potential lifeline for lower-division teams in English football – have been scrapped from next season.

The Football Association, which organises the FA Cup, cited “expanded UEFA competitions” as the reason for a move that was taken following talks with the Premier League.

Earning gate receipts and broadcast revenue from an extra game, especially against a top Premier League team, can be a game-changer for smaller clubs, bringing in as much as one million pounds (US$1.25 million).

However, the FA Cup recently got rid of replays from the last 16 onward, and yesterday said there won’t be any from the first round, a decision that was heavily criticised by the English Football League (EFL), which runs the three divisions below the Premier League.

“Ultimately, this represents another lost traditional revenue stream for EFL clubs at a time when the financial gap between the biggest clubs and those further down the pyramid is growing bigger than ever,” EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said.

The EFL will be “seeking appropriate compensation arrangements”, Birch said.

Space on domestic football calendars is increasingly tight, even more so from next season when there will be an extra 64 games in an expanded Champions League and four extra midweeks during the season for European games. England is unusual in still having a second cup competition – the League Cup – too.

Chris Wilder, who manages Premier League club Sheffield United but has spent much of his coaching career in the lower leagues, would have preferred replays to have stayed.

“As always, the game is dictated and dominated by the big boys. And the big boys don’t want FA Cup replays, do they?” Wilder posed.

The move comes as part of an agreement between the FA and the Premier League that will see up to an extra 33 million pounds (US$41 million) go to the grass-roots game from the top flight each season.

The Premier League will be contributing more money to a stadium fund, which can be accessed by clubs from the lower leagues for infrastructure improvements.

Also as part of the agreement, the fourth round, last 16, and quarterfinals of the FA Cup, the world’s oldest knockout competition, will be played exclusive of Premier League games for the first time.

The FA Cup final will be played the weekend before the end of the Premier League season. Currently, it is staged the weekend after.

“The new schedule ensures the magic of the cup is protected and enhanced while working for the whole of the English game,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said his competition had been “committed to enhancing the scheduling of the FA Cup, a hugely important domestic competition with a storied history”.