FA Cup replays scrapped from first round

FA Cup replays will be scrapped from the first round onwards from next season as part of an agreement with the Premier League, the Football Association, FA, announced on Thursday.

The FA had already dropped replays from the fifth round onwards. It said the move to ditch them from earlier rounds had been agreed “in light of changes to the calendar driven by the expanded UEFA (European) competitions”.

From next season the Champions League will feature an extra 64 games. This creates increased pressure on the domestic calendar.

World governing body, FIFA, had announced an expanded 32-team Club World Cup for 2025.

English Football League

But the English Football League (EFL), which oversees tiers two, three and four, said it would seek compensation over the “frustrating and disappointing” decision to scrap replays.

It noted that replays provided vital income for lower division clubs when they played bigger teams.

The FA said all rounds of the FA Cup would now be played at weekends.

Also, there will be no Premier League matches on weekends set aside for the fourth and fifth rounds and the quarter-finals.

Teams from the third and fourth tiers of English football enter the FA Cup in the first round. However, Premier League and Championship clubs join from the third round.

The FA Cup qualifying rounds for clubs outside the top four tiers will still have replays.

Also speaking was EFL chief executive Trevor Birch. He said: “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.

“We will now be discussing the implications for EFL clubs and seeking appropriate compensation arrangements.”

The changes, which are part of a six-year agreement, will also mean the removal of the mid-season break from the Premier League calendar.

The English top-flight will start the 2024/25 season in mid-August to give players a consecutive three-week break. This takes into account “expert advice from medical and technical departments”.

Financial benefits

As part of the new deal, the Premier League is “providing up to an additional £33 million ($41 million) for grassroots football”.

The FA said the agreement would secure up to £133 million per season in funding in total from the 2025/26 campaign.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “This new agreement between The FA and the Premier League strengthens the FA Cup. It gives this very special tournament exclusive weekends in an increasingly busy calendar.

“The longer summer period also allows a much-needed player break before the start of the next season.”

Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, also spoke.

He said: “Throughout our discussions, both parties have been committed to enhancing the scheduling of the FA Cup.

“It is a hugely important domestic competition with a storied history.”

The FA Cup semi-finals will be played at Wembley this weekend. Holders, Manchester City, are meeting Chelsea on Saturday and Manchester United facing Coventry on Sunday.

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