FA claim EFL were involved in decision to scrap cup replays

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The Football Association has responded to widespread condemnation over the scrapping of FA Cup replays from next season, and claimed the EFL agreed to the proposal.

The FA and Premier League announced a raft of changes to the competition yesterday, the most controversial of which will see replays no longer take place in any round.

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Clubs in the Football League immediately outlined their objections, claiming it will cut off a potentially lucrative revenue stream, and the EFL claimed they were powerless to prevent the changes but would seek compensation for their clubs.

However, a strongly worded FA statement this morning denied the EFL did not have a say.

It read: “We have listened to the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and would like to outline the approval process which was undertaken for the 2024-25 professional game football calendar.

“We have been discussing the calendar for the 2024-25 season with the Premier League and EFL for well over a year.

“Removing Emirates FA Cup replays was discussed in the early meetings and all parties accepted that they could not continue. The discussions then focused on how to make all of our competitions stronger, despite having fewer dates available and wanting to maintain player welfare.

“The changes to the Emirates FA Cup achieve this by returning it to a weekend competition on every round, and ensuring that we have exclusive broadcast slots in an increasingly congested calendar.

“To clarify, we have also increased the number of Emirates FA Cup matches that will be broadcast in the early rounds, which will lead to additional guaranteed broadcast revenue for EFL and National League teams. Additionally, we review the prize money annually for the competition, together with representatives from the EFL and PL and will do the same for the 2024-25 season.

“The calendar for next season was approved by the Professional Game Board, which consists of four EFL representatives and four Premier League representatives, last month, and then by the FA Board, which includes Premier League, EFL, National Game and grassroots representation. This is the process we undergo every year to approve the calendar.

“We understand the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and we will be sharing more details with clubs very shortly to explain the additional revenue opportunities in the early rounds.

“We will keep this under review as the new calendar begins to ensure that EFL and National League clubs do not lose out.”

The EFL admitted yesterday they were involved in talks around the calendar but any agreement was dependent on a new financial deal being agreed with the Premier League, and that has yet to materialise.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “Whilst the league had previously been involved in discussions over the future of the calendar, these were predicated on the agreement of a new financial deal with the Premier League for EFL clubs which has not progressed.

“This is frustrating and disappointing given the calendar is a shared asset across football, and as we have consistently said a whole game approach is required to find solutions to complex fixture scheduling challenges.

“Our domestic calendar has been put under extreme pressure by the expansion of UEFA competitions and ultimately 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 move to scrap replays came as a result of expanded European competitions and the desire of the Premier League’s elite to cope with an increasingly congested fixture list.

In return the Premier League said they would provide an additional £33million per season to the football pyramid starting from the 2025-26 campaign.

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.”

Masters’ enthusiasm was not shared by Andy Holt, the chairman of League Two side Accrington Stanley.

Holt wrote on X: “Why would the hapless FA scrap early round replays that can be lucrative to minnows? A chance to change their financial fortunes? Against EFL clubs?

“I expect nothing less of Masters and Co at the Premier League, buying the game into a format that suits their needs.

“As usual.”

Nicola Palios, vice chair of League Two club Tranmere, was also unimpressed.

She wrote on X: “729 teams compete in the FA Cup. Why is its format being dictated by the Premier League, who represent c.3% of them? Why were EFL clubs not given a say? 

“Why is the EPL even dictating whether replays are allowed in rounds they don’t participate in? Protest is needed!”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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