HomeFA CupEFL denies involvement in controversial deal to scrap FA Cup replays

EFL denies involvement in controversial deal to scrap FA Cup replays

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The English Football League (EFL) has denied the Football Association’s claim it was party to a controversial agreement struck with the Premier League to scrap FA Cup replays from next season.

On Thursday, the FA and Premier League announced a raft of changes to the world’s oldest cup competition, the most controversial of them being the removal of replays from the first round onwards.

That change has been implemented in response to fixture congestion at the top of the game, ahead of the Champions League expanding to include two additional group-stage matches for each team next season.

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Clubs across the EFL immediately outlined their objections, claiming the decision will cut off a potentially lucrative revenue stream for those lower down the pyramid, as the EFL pledged to seek compensation.

On Friday, the FA responded to widespread criticism of the changes by claiming the EFL was party to the agreement.

In a statement, the FA said: “We have been discussing the calendar for the 2024-25 season with the Premier League and EFL for well over a year. Removing FA Cup replays was discussed in the early meetings and all parties accepted that they could not continue.”

However, the EFL has now refuted that suggestion with a strongly worded statement of its own, saying: “The agreement which now sees the abolition of replays from the competition was agreed solely between the Premier League and FA.

“Ahead of the deal being announced there was no agreement with the EFL nor was there any formal consultation with EFL clubs as members of the FA and participants in the competition.

“In September 2023, the EFL did initially discuss with clubs potential changes to the FA Cup format but only as part of a wider and more fundamental change to financial distributions.

“As is now clear, there has been no movement in this area since September. The EFL representatives did challenge the position and were told that clubs would be comfortable with no replays.

“They were effectively advised that, as a result of it being an FA competition, the fixture list needed to be agreed as presented. It is also important to note this matter was not discussed by the FA Cup Committee, a separate group that oversees the competition.”

In response to the row, the EFL called on the Premier League and FA to adopt a more collaborative approach and to address the financial inequality running through the pyramid.

“This latest agreement between the Premier League and the FA, in the absence of financial reform, is a further example of how the EFL and its clubs are being marginalised in favour of others further up the pyramid. That only serves to threaten the future of the English game,” the statement continued.

“The EFL today calls on both the Premier League and the FA, as the governing body, to reevaluate their approach to their footballing partnership with the EFL and engage more collaboratively on issues directly affecting our clubs.”

The decision to scrap replays has also crossed political divides, with a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer both questioning the move on Friday.

However, a Downing Street spokesperson suggested the issue was unlikely to be taken up by an incoming independent football regulator, saying: “This one is one for the football authorities.

“You’ll know that we take supporting grassroots football and clubs seriously and that’s why we’ve taken forward the work that we have.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.

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