The Real EFL Statement – FA Cup Replays

The Real EFL would like to put on record our complete dismay at the decision to scrap FA Cup replays from the first round proper.

The FA Cup is one of the most famous cup competitions in world football, built on a reputation of multiple underdog stories. It has produced moments like no other. Moments that fans will cherish for a lifetime. Moments that will never be replicated. These changes will now see fans, players and clubs robbed of moments that will become etched in their history.

Every year, clubs up and down the country dream of a cup run which could secure financial security for years to come. We’ve seen this in recent times. Who can forget Grimsby Town‘s run to the quarter final last year? Non League Lincoln City reaching the same stage in 2017? Third tier Chesterfield coming within a whisker of reaching the final in 1997?

These are just a handful of examples from over the years, many of which wouldn’t be possible without replays. In fact, one of the competition’s most famous fixtures came in the way of a third round replay in 1972 when Hereford United beat Newcastle United, launching the career of one John Motson.

But this isn’t about just moments, this is about money. Money which could become a springboard for many clubs. In 2006, Burton Albion took Manchester United to a replay and with it, a chance to play at Old Trafford. This helped them rise up the leagues to eventually secure a spot in the Championship in 2016. The same goes for Lincoln’s historic run. Needing a replay to beat Ipswich Town, they then defeated Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley to earn a trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal. They are now bidding for a spot in the second tier themselves.

So why rob clubs of these moments to accommodate a select few? Eight clubs play European football every year. EIGHT. And these changes have been made to benefit just eight clubs. That in itself is ridiculous.

And why? Because they play too many games? Nonsense. Premier League clubs already play less games than the rest of the football pyramid. As an example, Peterborough United will play 46 league games this season. They also won the EFL Trophy, adding a further eight games to their schedule. Three in the Carabao Cup, four in the FA Cup, play-offs on the horizon. When all is said and done, they will have played either 63 or 64 games this season, depending on whether they head to Wembley for a second time.

We are constantly told that the Premier League is the showcase for elite athletes. Those at the pinnacle of their physical prowess. But they can’t hack an extra game or two in a season? Absolute tosh.

It’s time that the FA stop bending over to a handful of clubs and remember that English football would be nothing without its pyramid, a model envied by the rest of the world. The backlash shown by clubs in the EFL and beyond show how tone deaf the governing body has become, all because they’re scared stiff of upsetting a Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal.

We know we have no say in this, and we know that this statement won’t make a jot of difference. However, it was fan backlash which contributed to the downfall of the European Super League, so we have to try.

We urge the FA to urgently rethink their plans, to consult the rest of the football pyramid, to consult those that really matter. Only then will they get a true reflection of everyone’s thoughts, which we suspect is one they won’t like.

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About Jamie Ward 594 Articles
Head of Writing

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