Express & Star

West Brom and Walsall respond to FA Cup replays axe with statement as boss appeals for fairness

Walsall have expressed their ‘disappointment’ at the removal of FA Cup replays while Albion boss Carlos Corberan has stressed the importance of consultation amid anger at the axe.


The Football Association announced on Thursday its decision to amend several rules and format of the historic competition, the headline of which stated replays would cease from round one and beyond.

The ruling has drawn an angry reaction from across the pyramid, but specifically further down from clubs who owe much success and financial stability to prize and broadcast funds from the competitions. An FA statement yesterday suggested talks with clubs further down the pyramid had taken place for more than a year.

But the EFL hit back by stating terms were “agreed solely between the Premier League and FA. Ahead of the deal being announced there was no agreement with the EFL nor was there any formal consultation with EFL clubs”. It is understood Albion were not consulted on the decision. Corberan, acknowledging the competition’s tradition and Albion’s proud heritage as five-time winners, underlined the need for fairness.

“The only thing I can tell you is with one decision like that one impacts a lot a competition like that competition,” Corberan told the Express & Star.

“So from my perspective the only thing I would like is the decision has to be an agreement or consultation between every single part involved in the decision, because of the impact.

“We played a replay with Chesterfield, they had the possibility to live an experience that without a replay they wouldn’t have lived, from the football perspective, being at our stadium playing this game, from the financial perspective–- it may be that they use these experiences to win promotion to League Two.

“That’s why it is important to make the right consultation with the right decisions. It’s a competition I respect a lot, being manager of West Bromwich Albion even more because it is part of the history of our club.”

Walsall said in a statement: Walsall Football Club is disappointed with the decision taken by the FA and the Premier League to change the format of the FA Cup with the removal replays.

“This agreement was made without any formal consultation with EFL clubs, as well as those in the national leagues and at grassroots level, which we feel shows a lack of respect to clubs further down the pyramid and their supporters as the competition presents clubs like ourselves with the best opportunity to create fantastic memories for our supporters as well as providing an important source of revenue.

“We stand united with the broader football community, fully supporting the EFL’s stance, and hope both the Premier League and the FA re-evaluate their approach to their footballing partnership with the EFL and engage more collaboratively on issues that directly affect EFL clubs.”

Albion head Corbernan added: “I like it when there is a decision to make the right and fair decision and an important decision requires a consultation between the people involved to arrive to a fair decision.”

Corberan went on to explain the challenges to managers in the current era dealing with the intensity and volume of fixtures in the Championship and Leagues One and Two.

Much of the outcry in reaction to the FA’s decision is the suggestion format changes have come to aid big Premier League clubs and their European aspirations, to help rest players. Claims from club down the pyramid and the EFL’s governing body is that top-flight clubs have been prioritised.

“It is important to find a good balance in keeping the traditions that are important to keep and to adapt to the situations we are having in football,” added Albion’s boss.

“It’s true that when you analyse the number of games we play in the Championship, that teams are playing in European competitions, it’s a lot.

“This is very positive in the fans’ perspective because you can watch many games in a season, it’s probably positive for football to guarantee its future, the fact people can be involved by watching a lot.

“Sometimes I see for example in League One they are playing the (EFL) Trophy, a demanding competition, they have many games too, plus replays, but it is something that makes football nice for fans too.

“It probably demands adaptation from clubs, because nowadays with shorter squads it is impossible, literally impossible, because when you play many games in a row you cannot guarantee the squad, you need to have people fresh and alternatives if an injury.

“The alternative is to adapt the new needs of football – to keep people engaged, with the traditions in football too, and to understand the consequences of our decisions.

“So far I have been happy with the competition I’ve played and being West Bromwich Albion manager I have a lot of respect. Hopefully the decision is an agreement on all parts and the right thing, if they decide something.”