It’s time for England to have one cup competition, scrap replays

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Liverpool has had to deal with some intense fixture congestion in recent weeks, playing across five competitions in the festive period and averaging a game every three days. After conspiring to draw 2-2 with third-tier side Shrewsbury in the FA Cup fourth round on the weekend, the Reds must now a replay to their hectic schedule.

Controversially, manager Jurgen Klopp has said he won’t even attend the replay at Anfield, and he’ll send out a second-string team, as he will be letting his team participate in the Premier League’s first-ever winter break.

This highlights the huge issue with English cup competitions: there’s too many of them and they have too many replays. If competing on all fronts, an English top-flight side can play 64 games in a 10-month season, which is far too much.

Liverpool doesn’t want to deal with a replay, and neither did Wolves or Manchester United in the last round. FA Cup replays have been scrapped behind the Fifth Round already, but it’s time to scrap them altogether. Pep Guardiola has said replays should be scrapped, and clearly Klopp feels the same way. And in order to ease winter fixture congestion, perhaps the FA Cup should be moved to earlier in the season. To do this, a huge change has to happen: the League Cup must be completely scrapped.

Most European leagues don’t have a secondary cup competition—the only major outlier is France, who are scrapping the Coupe de la Ligue this season. English soccer should follow suit: Guardiola has admitted he would be happy to see the League Cup canceled, even though his team has won the last two editions!

It potentially adds an extra five games to the schedule, and let’s be honest: no big teams take it seriously. Scrapping it would give FA Cup more gravitas, and it would give players some much-needed rest: after all, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford are both out right now with injuries attributed to playing too many games. The headline here: England doesn’t need two cup competitions. And having just the one would really help to protect its sanctity and relevance.

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