Express & Star

EFL to seek compensation for clubs after FA Cup replays abolished

EFL sources say the league was sidelined from the final agreement to change the FA Cup’s format from the first round proper.

Last updated

The EFL will seek compensation for its clubs over the “frustrating and disappointing” decision to scrap all FA Cup replays from next season.

League sources say it was sidelined from the decision, which was announced by the Football Association on Thursday.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “Whilst the league had previously been involved in discussions over the future of the calendar, these were predicated on the agreement of a new financial deal with the Premier League for EFL clubs which has not progressed.

FA Cup replays from the first round onwards are being scrapped from next season
FA Cup replays from the first round onwards are being scrapped from next season (Nick Potts/PA)

“This is frustrating and disappointing given the calendar is a shared asset across football, and as we have consistently said a whole game approach is required to find solutions to complex fixture scheduling challenges.

“Our domestic calendar has been put under extreme pressure by the expansion of UEFA competitions and ultimately this represents another lost traditional revenue stream for EFL clubs at a time when the financial gap between the biggest clubs and those further down the pyramid is growing bigger than ever.

“We will now be discussing the implications for EFL clubs and seeking appropriate compensation arrangements.”

The FA’s media release confirming the format changes said the overall calendar for next season – including an FA Cup without any replays – was approved by its Professional Game Board, which features four EFL representatives including its chairman Rick Parry, along with four representatives from the Premier League.

The PA news agency has also been told that the EFL board approved the calendar, but has not yet been able to confirm this with the EFL.

The abolition of FA Cup replays from the third round had long been expected to help clubs deal with the expansion of the Champions League, which will feature 64 more matches next season and spill into January for the first time.

The FA, EFL and Premier League had been involved in ‘New Deal’ talks over funding and the domestic calendar, but negotiations over a new financial settlement between the EFL and the Premier League have been put on hold after top-flight clubs opted in March to first focus on agreeing new cost control measures.

The EFL had announced on January 24 that it would not make any changes to the format of next season’s Carabao Cup until a new financial deal had been agreed. That leaves open the possibility of clashes between that competition and UEFA dates in the new calendar.

FA sources have challenged the notion that replays, which have been a major part of its tradition for 150 years, are major revenue earners for lower-league clubs.

Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side were away, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000. Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

Replays remain popular with fans however, with 69.5 per cent of those polled in a Football Supporters’ Association survey last summer believing they were an important part of the FA Cup.

The FSA has yet to comment on the scrapping of replays.

The changes also mean fifth-round ties reverting to weekends after five seasons of them being played in midweek. The fourth round, fifth round and quarter-finals will also be played on ‘exclusive’ weekends without Premier League action, while the fourth round will be split across six days from Friday to Wednesday.

The FA Cup final will be played on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season, but no Premier League matches will be scheduled on the Saturday it is played, the FA said.

The late May Bank Holiday weekend has been ringfenced for the EFL play-offs.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham says the new format will strengthen the FA Cup
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham says the new format will strengthen the FA Cup (Steve Welsh/PA)

The mid-season break has also been scrapped in order to allow the 2024-25 Premier League season to start in mid-August. It is hoped the longer break will ensure top-flight clubs are able to give their players a consecutive three-week break.

The agreement between the FA and the Premier League will see up to an extra £33million of funding flowing to the football pyramid each season.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said the move would strengthen the FA Cup, while his Premier League counterpart Richard Masters said the changes had been agreed “without compromising the excitement of knockout football”.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.