FA Cup replays: Yorkshire's clubs stand behind EFL in controversial dispute

Yorkshire’s Football League (EFL) clubs have largely lined up behind their governing body in the dispute over FA Cup replays.

On Thursday the Football Association (FA) announced it had reached a six-year agreement with the Premier League on various scheduling issues, including scrapping all FA Cup replays in the competition proper.

The voracious expansion of UEFA competitions was cited as the main reason, but the clubs involved do not join the competition until the third round. More than 700 take part in the world's most famous domestic cup competition, 20 from the Premier League.

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The Football League and FA cannot even agree whether they discussed the issue. It hardly bodes well for the seemingly never-ending discussions between the Premier League and Football League over a new revenue distribution model and does little to back up the top division's argument that an independent regulator is unnecessary.

The FA says talks have been going on 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," it claimed in a statement.

"The discussions then focused on how to make all of our competitions stronger, despite having fewer dates available and wanting to maintain player welfare."

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It said calendar changes for next season were approved by the Professional Game Board (PGB), which consists of four representatives from the Football League and four from the Premier League.

NUANCED: Championship managers Liam Rosenior and Daniel Farke tried to see both sides but the clubs were more stridentNUANCED: Championship managers Liam Rosenior and Daniel Farke tried to see both sides but the clubs were more strident
NUANCED: Championship managers Liam Rosenior and Daniel Farke tried to see both sides but the clubs were more strident

The Football League, which has demanded compensation for the decision, countered: “There was no agreement with the EFL nor was there any formal consultation with EFL clubs as members of the FA and participants in the competition.

"In September 2023, the EFL did initially discuss with clubs potential changes to the FA Cup format but only as part of a wider and more fundamental change to financial distributions. There has been no movement in this area since September.

"This latest agreement between the Premier League and FA, in the absence of financial reform, is just a further example of how the EFL and its clubs are being marginalised in favour of others further up the pyramid."

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It also added: "PGB is there to make technical decisions across the game as opposed to key policy decisions such as competition changes or formats.

"Any decisions taken on the calendar involving EFL representatives are in no way an endorsement of the joint deal agreed between the FA and Premier League that imposes changes to the FA Cup format in isolation."

League Two Bradford City that the 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."

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Fellow League Two side Doncaster Rovers argued: "Cup replays have been incredibly valuable for dozens of clubs across the EFL and non-league pyramid for decades. That they should be so flippantly removed, with no details of recompense provided, is bitterly disappointing."

Conference side York City, whose proud history in the competition includes reaching the 1955 semi-final, called for "an immediate review" by the FA of a decision which "appalled" them, "this time consulting clubs at the heart of footballing communities up and down the country who will be hit hardest by this blow to our game’s heritage."

The Championship managers who spoke on the topic tried to take a more balanced attitude.

"In my first season in English football with Norwich City we had a really good Carabao Cup run and a really good FA Cup run and one thing was crucial: we had a home game against Chelsea that was a draw and it allowed us to travel to Stamford Bridge,” recalled Leeds United manager Daniel Farke. “It was important to have this replay because we needed each and every pound and it helped the club to more or less keep going forward.

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"Especially for the smaller clubs it's sometimes beneficial and to be allowed to present bigger clubs to home supporters is great.

"But there are perhaps some disadvantages with replays in terms of the fixture list so I leave the decisions to the big authorities."

Hull City's Liam Rosenior added: "There's been some amazing, memories with the FA Cup, especially replays. I remember being a kid and watching Ryan Giggs run through Arsenal's team at Villa Park and score that goal (in the 1999 semi-final replay), I was running around the front room.

"Everything evolves. There are so many more commitments for teams in the Premier League in terms of European competitions, making sure that they fly the flag for this country.

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"Also, my dad was manager of Gloucester City in the Southern League, and I understand the pyramid as well. Those clubs that go on cup runs in non-league rely on those replays.

"It's really important that there's a balance for both ends of the argument.

"People are paying fortunes for season tickets for subscriptions, for shirts, you want to give the fans the best product possible.

"The chance of getting the best players on the pitch fresh just diminishes and that actually brings the quality of the product down."