'We want to save the FA Cup' - clubs urge replays rethink

The Emirates FA Cup Trophy on display pitch side at Wembley Stadium ahead of the Emirates FA Cup Semi Final match between Coventry City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 21, 2024 in London, England
The decision to drop FA Cup replays from next season has met firm resistance [Getty Images]

Eleven English Football League clubs and 16 from the non-league pyramid have joined forces to urge the Government to reinstate FA Cup replays.

The Football Association announced last month that replays in the world's oldest cup competition would be scrapped from the first round proper from next season to ease a calendar which has been made more congested by the expansion of European club competitions.

That led to an outcry from EFL and non-league clubs who said the decision had been made without consulting them.

The 27 clubs have backed a move by football reform body Fair Game to request an amendment to the Football Governance Bill, that would need a majority of clubs to vote for such changes.

In a letter to culture secretary Lucy Frazer, the clubs said they "want to save the FA Cup".

"The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world and the decision to remove FA Cup replays from the first round proper further undermines its prestige and does nothing to help protect our cherished football pyramid.

“The Premier League’s influence in this decision is yet another example of football’s growing divide that has seen the gaps between and within divisions grow at all levels.

“Participating clubs in the FA Cup were not consulted. Our clubs as well as the fans have been let down."

'Lack of transparency'

The letter pointed out the four Premier League clubs who reach the Champions League next season will play a minimum of 50 matches, while League One and League Two clubs will play a minimum of 51.

It also highlighted there have been fewer than 10 occasions in the past 10 years when a club playing in European football has faced an FA Cup replay.

The letter, whose EFL signatories include Bolton, Exeter, Wycombe, Carlisle, Lincoln, AFC Wimbledon, Accrington, Newport, Swindon, Tranmere and Grimsby added: "This decision has become totemic for how the game is being run. Decisions are being made behind closed doors. There is a lack of transparency, a lack of consistency, and a lack of fairness."

National League South side Maidstone United, who knocked Championship club Ipswich Town out of this year's FA Cup on an historic run to the fifth round are among the other clubs supporting the retention of replays.

The Premier League pledged an extra £33million funding to support grassroots football when they announced the decision.

The FA said the decision had been taken by the Professional Game Board, which includes four EFL representatives, including chairman Rick Parry.