FA Cup replays: Why have they been scrapped - and how has football reacted?

A Grimsby fan holds up a foil FA Cup trophy before an FA Cup match against Brighton in 2023.
The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world. Credit: PA

Replays in the FA Cup have been scrapped as part of a raft of changes agreed between the Football Association (FA) and the Premier League on the competition's format and funding.

The decision to abolish replays altogether has been met with mixed reaction from various stakeholders - some of whom have called it "frustrating and disappointing".

So what exactly has been announced? ITV News explains.

What has been announced?

A number of key changes affecting future editions of the FA Cup have been announced, including:

  • The FA Cup will be played without replays from the first round onwards

  • All rounds of the FA Cup will now be played on weekends, with the final taking place on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season

  • The fourth round, fifth round and quarter finals will no longer clash with any Premier League fixtures for the first time

  • The Premier League will provide up to an additional £33 million for grassroots football each season

Why have replays been scrapped?

UEFA's expanded Champions League has placed added pressure on an already congested fixture calendar, and will feature an extra 64 matches from the start of the 2024-25 season.

Even though Premier League teams do not play in the first and second rounds of the FA Cup, sources told the PA news agency the decision to scrap replays in those rounds was taken for the sake of overall consistency.

The decision is also believed to have been made in a bid to help English Football League (EFL) clubs and those lower down the pyramid resolve their own congestion issues.

One argument put forward in favour of not scrapping replays was that they can be major revenue earners for lower-league clubs.

But sources have challenged that view.

Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side was away, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000.

Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

Manchester City are the current FA Cup champions. Credit: PA

What has been the reaction?

Whilst the FA and Premier League have said the changes will strengthen the FA Cup, the EFL has criticised the move to ditch all replays as "frustrating and disappointing".

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said executives would seek compensation for its clubs and indicated that it was not involved in the final decision.

But the FA said in its media release that the new-look FA Cup was part of the overall calendar approved by the Professional Game Board, which features four representatives from the EFL, including its chairman Rick Parry.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, meanwhile, said the changes had been agreed "without compromising the excitement of knockout football".

The Football Supporters' Association has not yet issued any comment on the move, but its survey from last year showed continued strong support for replays, with 69.5% of respondents believing they are an important part of the FA Cup.

And the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Maheta Molango said the move showed how decisions taken at FIFA and UEFA level had "a knock-on impact which affects clubs, and players, throughout the pyramid".

"What football needs is a collective approach to a properly thought-out global fixture calendar - not a fight for available dates," Mr Molango added.

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