FA accused of lying over FA Cup replays as English football on brink of civil war

chief Steve Kavanagh has questioned the Football Association (FA) over their insistence that ‘all parties’ agreed with the decision to scrap FA Cup replays. The changes, which will come into play next season as part of a new deal with the Premier League, have been widely criticised since they were announced on Thursday.

The FA responded to the backlash by insisting in a statement that scrapping replays was ‘discussed in the early meetings and all parties accepted that they could not continue’. The EFL went on to issue a statement of their own, claiming there was ‘no agreement’ and that member clubs were not involved in ‘any formal consultation’.

Kavanagh, who is also on the Professional Game Board, said he had no advance warning of the move that was about to be taken by the governing body. He also accused the FA of trying to deflect blame, telling London News Online: “Blaming others when you’re not prepared to take responsibility for your own decisions, actions and agreements is spineless, I’m afraid.

“There were conversations regarding FA Cup replays, but it was all part of redistribution. It was a conversation around the calendar. Everybody knows there are problems around the calendar. It was one of the tools the EFL had in trying to bring the Premier League to reach an agreement and a fairer distribution for the whole of the pyramid.

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“That has now been taken away from us as well. We have been left empty-handed. For the finger of blame to be sent in our direction, and for my colleagues at PGB, is utterly bewildering. I’m the vice-chairman of the FA Cup Committee. I didn’t even get a notification on that committee and no conversations took place on that committee regarding this.

“With the FA now trying to shift the finger of blame, they need to take a long, hard look at themselves to go away and think about whether they absolutely represent the full pyramid.”

When approached for comment by Express Sport, the FA said the Professional Game Board was part of the process and approved the changes. In their public statement, which was released on Friday morning, the governing body said: “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.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported by the Daily Mail that some lower-league clubs have raised the prospect of boycotting the FA Cup in response to replays being scrapped. Such a move is considered unlikely amid the risk of jeopardising solidarity payments from the Premier League but is said to have been discussed as a potential ‘nuclear option’.

Some fans have expressed their opposition to the controversial FA Cup changes on social media, while others have taken a different approach by making themselves heard at games. A group of Oxford United supporters held up a protest banner during their match against Stevenage on Friday night, which simply read: “FA CUP – R.I.P.”


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