FA Cup Replays & Why They Matter

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The magic of the FA Cup has been lost they say; ‘they’ being your usual Premier League obsessed pundits and commentators, often the same people who shout loudest for FA Cup replays to be scrapped.

They’ll probably get their way too, and when it happens, there will be more complaints and head-scratching from the same blue-tick brigade.

If we are serious about protecting the FA Cup and its ‘magic’, we could start by just leaving the damn thing alone. Ties played on Fridays and Mondays, kick-off times moved for televised games, most often featuring ties between Premier League clubs who really don’t need the money. Then there is the cup draw, the most recent of which took place on ‘The One Show’, clearly an attempt to increase the exposure, but it made for excruciating viewing and widespread mockery.

And now cup replays are under-threat. Scrap them they say, the fixture schedule is too busy, so much so that the poor mites now have a ‘winter break’, a chance perhaps to rest by playing a lucrative friendly, a move that has led to the worst FA Cup change of all – the 5th round ties are to be played midweek. Seriously?

Despite the attempts to subvert the competition by the top clubs, and by the FA who pander to them, the ‘magic’ is still there for many. If we needed any evidence of the importance of FA Cup replays, just take a look at tonight’s fixtures.

Oxford United will play in front of a full-house tonight as they host Newcastle United. Northampton Town will take 4000 fans to their replay at Derby, and Shrewsbury Town will take an army of 8000 supporters to Anfield. Tell them that the magic has gone.

While lower league clubs cannot be expected to rely on revenues from cup runs, they can certainly not budget for them, when they come along – and they will for all league clubs every now and again, they are very welcome indeed. At a time when the gap between the haves and have-nots has never been greater, why would we even contemplate the scrapping of cup replays? Because Pep is not happy? Well, tough. Deal with it, because frankly, outside of the tedious PL bubble, nobody really gives a toss.

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