FA Cup scrapping replays as football chiefs announce radical overhaul of the competition

18 April 2024, 12:14

Football chiefs have agreed radical changes to the FA Cup
Football chiefs have agreed radical changes to the FA Cup. Picture: alamy

By StephenRigley

FA Cup replays have been scrapped from next season, the Football Association has announced.

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The move to abolish all replays from the first round proper onwards is part of a new agreement between the FA and the Premier League which will see up to an extra £33million going to grassroots football from the top flight each season.

The FA had already scrapped replays from the fifth round onwards and said the move to ditch them altogether had been agreed "in light of changes to the calendar driven by the expanded UEFA competitions".

Manchester City after winning last seasons FA Cup
Manchester City after winning last seasons FA Cup. Picture: alamy

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The FA said all rounds would now be played at the weekend, with the fifth phase having moved to midweek for the last five seasons.

The final will now be played on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season, on a Saturday with no top-flight matches taking place on the same day.

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

The FA said that under the new format, the fourth round, fifth round and quarter-finals would all be exclusive of Premier League fixtures for the first time, while the fourth round will be played across an "extended window" from Friday to the following Wednesday.

The FA said the deal will provide up to £133m per season in funding to the football pyramid from 2025-26.

The first year of the format forms part of the overall calendar which has been given the approval of the Professional Game Board, which features representatives from the FA, the Premier League and the EFL.

The mid-season break has been removed from the calendar to allow a mid-August start date for the Premier League for 2024-25, with the longer break affording top-flight clubs a better chance of giving players a consecutive three-week break.

The FA said that move took into account expert medical advice around the benefits of a longer period of complete rest versus a shorter break in the winter.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: "The Emirates FA Cup is our biggest asset and generates over 60 per cent of our revenue to invest into the game, so it is critical to secure a strong format for the future.

"This new agreement between The FA and the Premier League strengthens the Emirates FA Cup and gives this very special tournament exclusive weekends in an increasingly busy calendar. The new schedule ensures the magic of the cup is protected and enhanced, whilst working for the whole of the English game.

"The longer summer period also allows a much-needed player break before the start of the next season. We have also agreed new funding for the grassroots game, disability football, and the women's and girls' game. All football begins at the grassroots, and this is recognised by the Premier League with very welcome additional financial support."

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: "The Premier League is proud of the investment it provides to all levels of the game and this new agreement with the FA will see us enhance our support into grassroots football.

"This will improve facilities for communities and lower league clubs across the country, through the Football Foundation and Premier League Stadium Fund.

"Throughout our discussions both parties have been committed to enhancing the scheduling of the Emirates FA Cup, a hugely important domestic competition with a storied history. The FA and the Premier League have worked in partnership to deliver more exclusive weekends without compromising the excitement of knockout football and this has been achieved at the same time as allowing us to ease fixture congestion generally."

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