FA issue statement after EFL backlash over scrapping FA Cup replays

FA issue statement after EFL backlash over scrapping FA Cup replays

The Football Association have hit back at criticism of their decision to remove FA Cup replays by insisting they consulted fully with the EFL before making the decision.

A new six-year deal between the FA and Premier League was revealed on Thursday. It included the removal of FA Cup replays from the first round onwards, moving the FA Cup final date to the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season, and cancelling the winter break.

The changes are due to come into force from the start of next season and will be reassessed in 2030.

The scrapping of replays, which can earn EFL and non-league clubs valuable prize money, caused outrage and was condemned by several clubs.

Before the FA statement, AFC Wimbledon became the latest club to speak out. In a statement, the club said: “We condemn the decision to change the format of the FA Cup.

“There was no consultation with clubs lower in the football pyramid. We urge the FA to pause the plans and conduct a consultation.”

League Two Wimbledon have followed in the footsteps of clubs such as Grimsby, Peterborough and Tranmere Rovers in criticising the move.

The EFL will now be discussing the implications for their clubs and seeking compensation. Ending replays means EFL clubs could miss out on potentially lucrative income. EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said the announcement was “disappointing”.

In a statement on Friday morning, the FA insisted the EFL have been involved in discussions for “well over a year.” It read: “We have listened to the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and would like to outline the approval process which was undertaken for the 2024-25 professional game football calendar.

“We have been discussing the calendar for the 2024-25 season with the Premier League and EFL 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. The discussions then focused on how to make all of our competitions stronger, despite having fewer dates available and wanting to maintain player welfare.

“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.

“To clarify, 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.”

The statement continued: “The calendar for next season was approved by the Professional Game Board, which consists of four EFL representatives and four Premier League representatives, last month, and then by the FA Board, which includes Premier League, EFL, National Game and grassroots representation. This is the process we undergo every year to approve the calendar.

“We understand the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and we will be sharing more details with clubs very shortly to explain the additional revenue opportunities in the early rounds.

“We will keep this under review as the new calendar begins to ensure that EFL and National League clubs do not lose out.”