Significant alterations to the FA Cup are on the horizon, and it could include replays becoming much rarer.

The pressure on the Football Association (FA) has mounted due to the expansion of European competitions. Starting next season, both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League will increase their team count from 32 to 36. This will result in a minimum of 10 matches for each competing side.

As per a report from the BBC, it appears that the FA is on the verge of reaching a decision concerning the FA Cup. This decision may involve the complete elimination of third and fourth-round replays. This proposed change would require matches that end in a draw after 90 minutes to proceed to extra time and, potentially, penalty shootouts.

Bad news for lower tier teams

It’s believed that lower league clubs, which often rely on hosting replays to generate revenue, could face adverse consequences from this decision. Additionally, reports indicate that the two-legged semi-finals of the EFL Cup might also be replaced with single-leg matchups.

The exact timeline for the implementation of these changes remains uncertain. But they may coincide with the commencement of a new TV contract for the 2025-26 season.

Historically, replays were a feature in every stage of the FA Cup, even the final. However, in recent years, the FA have been proactive in reducing the number of matches, as seen in the elimination of fifth-round replays back in 2018. Instead, the preference now leans towards settling ties through extra time and penalty shootouts.

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will be happy

Calls for reform within the FA have come from influential figures like Liverpool‘s manager, Jurgen Klopp, who, at the start of 2023, advocated for the elimination of FA Cup replays. This decision is expected to spark controversy, particularly because replays are a significant source of income for clubs lower down the football hierarchy.

“The lifelines for small clubs cannot be massive problems for clubs who play every three days. We cannot solve all the problems by playing more games… How often did it happen that a smaller club came through because of this extra game?

“I know there is money involved and that’s how it is but you have to find solutions. Nobody wants to kill the smaller clubs; they have exactly the same right for existence as all of us,” Klopp was quoted as saying recently.

Photo: Imago.