FA Cup replays scrapped: The Football Association says 'all parties accepted' decision

Manchester City players celebrate with the FA Cup

The Football Association has defended its decision to scrap FA Cup replays from 2024-25 and insists "all parties accepted" they could not continue.

It was announced on Thursday that the competition will only be played on weekends with replays scrapped from the first round onwards.

League Two club Tranmere said the FA and the Premier League have shown "a total lack of respect."

But the FA says discussions have been going on 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," said a statement from the FA.

"The discussions then focused on how to make all of our competitions stronger, despite having fewer dates available and wanting to maintain player welfare."

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said it is "very sad for the British football culture" but added the outcome was "inevitable".

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's deputy spokesperson said: "David and Goliath fixtures are a part of the magic of the cup and we know that replays have been a welcome source of income for smaller clubs throughout the years."

But Downing Street said it is ultimately a decision for the footballing authorities.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it is the "wrong decision" with replays "part of the tradition of the FA Cup".

Many clubs from the EFL and lower down the football pyramid have criticised the FA over the past 24 hours, claiming that it takes away a traditional revenue stream.

League One side Exeter and their supporters' trust said they "condemn" the decision and have called on the FA to "suspend these changes with immediate effect until a consultation of all stakeholders has taken place".

"As the world's oldest professional football club, and past winners of the FA Cup, we're very sad to see that English football is set to lose a part of its soul," League Two club Notts County said in a statement.

Fellow League Two club Barrow said it is "simply unacceptable".

However, the FA says the calendar for next season was approved by the Professional Game Board, which consists of four representatives from the EFL and four representatives from the Premier League.

"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," the FA said.

"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."

Coventry manager Mark Robins, speaking before his Championship side face Manchester United in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday, admitted it was a "kick in the teeth".

"It's difficult because you look at it and those clubs, the grassroots, the EFL and below are all part of the pyramid which needs to feed each other - and eventually feeds the Premier League," Robins said.

"There are other things which could have happened like replays up until the third round, which doesn't impact on the bigger clubs."