FA Cup replays: Bradford City join criticism of controversial decision

Bradford City are the latest Yorkshire club to join the chorus of disapproval at the scrapping of all replays in the FA Cup proper.

Extra matches have been cut back in the competition over the Premier League era and in a number of schedule changes for the next six years, it was announced on Thursday that all ties from the first round onwards will decided on the day.

That this agreement was reached between the Football Association and the Premier League, which provides 20 of the more than 700 competing teams with seemingly no consultation to the rest has annoyed the wider football community, for whom replays can often be extremely lucrative.

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The main reason given for the decision was UEFA's ever-expanding club competitions. The sides involved in that do not join the FA Cup before the third round.

The secrecy around the decision does not bode well for the negotiations between the Premier League and Football League (EFL) over a new cash redistribution deal.

"We understand this decision was taken without any consultation with the EFL or its clubs, nor those at National League or grassroots level, to whom the FA Cup represents a unique opportunity to not only create lasting memories, but provide potentially game-changing income," said a statement by League Two Bradford.

"Our football club has a proud history in cup competitions. One of our most memorable days, at Chelsea in 2015, may not have been possible had we not have had the opportunity to contest a replayed fixture in the round prior, against Millwall – another EFL club who appear to have been discounted in this process.

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"Yesterday’s announcement, which we received as everyone else did, as ‘breaking news’, perhaps tells us who has the greatest influence over the running of the English game, and leaves us with real concerns over the governance of the sport. We would have hoped The FA would have stood up for the wider game and, in our view, this decision is not in any way justifiable in the interest of protecting arguably the best pyramid in world football.

CONTROVERSIAL CALL: The decision to scrap FA CUp replays and the way it was come to has caused outrageCONTROVERSIAL CALL: The decision to scrap FA CUp replays and the way it was come to has caused outrage
CONTROVERSIAL CALL: The decision to scrap FA CUp replays and the way it was come to has caused outrage

"Clubs in divisions outside of the top flight play a significant role in the growth and development of the English game, and without us, the Premier League is not and cannot be what it is today, and will be in the future.

"There are more than 700 teams which enter the FA Cup every year. Only 20, as we understand it, were consulted around this decision, and involved in its outcome. This move denies the opportunity for clubs in the lower leagues to generate potentially transformational revenue which could change the course of a football club’s future.

"We strongly condemn the removal of replays from the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup onwards. While retrospective consultation would be nothing more than an insult, we believe this is necessary, and real compensation should be provided for clubs who have not been considered throughout this process. We will work closely with the EFL and fellow member clubs and do all we can to oppose this decision."

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As part of the agreement the FA will donate an extra £33m a year on top of the £100m it provides to the grassroots game but there has been no mention of additional money to the Football League, whose chief executive, Trevor Birch, has demanded compensation for his clubs.

Premier League manager Chris Wilder of Sheffield United expressed his disappointment at the decision shortly after it was announced.

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