Campaigners Fair Game want football’s independent regulator to protect FA Cup replays

More than 100 clubs have condemned the move and criticised the lack of consultation. Credit: PA Images

A campaign group which represents professional football clubs is calling for the Football Association (FA) to stop replays being scrapped from the first round.

It was announced last week that all replays will not go ahead from 2024/2025 season as part of a raft of changes agreed between the FA and the Premier League on the competition's format and funding.

Fair Game, a campaign group consisting of more than 40 clubs to improve football governance, says the proposed plans are "in the interests of the few and not the many."

More than 100 clubs have condemned the move and criticised the lack of consultation, with some club bosses even calling for a boycott of the competition.

League Two side Tranmere Rovers said it "showed a total lack of respect", while bosses at sixth tie club Chester FC branded the move "deeply concerning".

Fair Game is urging the FA to reconsider proposals to scrap replays. Credit: PA Images

Fair Game, alongside Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, is calling for an urgent amendment to be made to the Football Governance Bill, to give the independent regulator the power to block such a change if it does not have support from a majority of clubs.

In a letter from Burnham and Fair Game chief executive Niall Couper to Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire, it states: “Events of this season have led to rising concern amongst supporters at all levels that the football authorities are running the game in the interests of the few and not the many.

“Similar to the implementation of Profit and Sustainability Rules in the Premier League, these changes raise concerns about a lack of transparency, consistency and fairness on the part of the football authorities.”

Accepting the amendment would be a big shift in the regulator’s remit, with the Government having long stressed that sporting matters such as the domestic calendar will remain a matter for the football authorities.

The regulator’s primary focus has always been intended to be ensuring financial sustainability of clubs, and making clubs more accountable to their fans.

Some clubs have branded the move "deeply concerning" that is "in the interests of the few and not the many". Credit: PA Images

The professional football clubs backing calls to stop replays being scrapped:

  • Accrington Stanley

  • AFC Wimbledon

  • Altrincham

  • Ashford United

  • Basingstoke Town

  • Bath City

  • Bristol Rovers

  • Bury AFC

  • Cambridge United

  • Carlisle United

  • Chester FC

  • Chesterfield

  • City of Liverpool

  • Curzon Ashton

  • Darlington FC

  • Doncaster Rovers

  • Dorking Wanderers

  • Eastbourne Borough

  • Ebbsfleet United

  • FC United Women

  • Gateshead FC

  • Grimsby Town

  • Hungerford Towen

  • Leyton Orient

  • Lincoln City

  • Luton Town

  • Maidstone United

  • Newport County AFC

  • Salisbury

  • Shrewsbury Town

  • Swindon Town

  • Tonbridge Angels

  • Tranmere Rovers

  • Worcester City

League Two side Tranmere said it "showed a total lack of respect". Credit: PA Images

The call on replays came hours after Premier League chief executive Richard Masters hosted a drinks reception at the House of Lords to address legislators, alongside representatives of the National League but not the EFL.

Masters has repeatedly warned against the “unintended consequences” of introducing more regulation.

He fears it could weaken the Premier League and, by extension, its ability to provide solidarity funding to the wider pyramid.

He told legislators: “We are taking a big risk with a very successful industry and so we’re asking MPs and peers to look at the Bill very carefully and to look at it with a dispassionate head on and make sure that all of football benefits from it, and we don’t bump into unintended consequences.

“Football is successful because it has had investment, investment from all over the world coming into this country and investing on the pitch for fans to really enjoy. We don’t want that to be choked off, we want for that model to continue.”

The Football Governance Bill is having its second reading on Tuesday, 23 April, and will go through a parliamentary process before it is made law.

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