FA Cup replays scrapped as part of calendar overhaul for English top-tier

April 18 – FA Cup replays will be scrapped from the first round onwards in the 2024-25 competition, as part of a series of changes made by a new six-year agreement between the Football Association (FA) and the Premier League.

Both organisations aim to declutter the football calendar but maintain the unique position the FA Cup has in England’s sporting calendar. With UEFA set to expand the number of teams in the Champions League group stage from 32 to 36 next season, alongside the Europa Conference League introduced in 2021, player wellbeing is rarely been the driving factor behind scheduling decisions.

The new agreement means that all rounds of the Emirates FA Cup will be played on weekends, including the fifth round which has been played in midweek for the past five seasons.

The Premier League has scrapped its mid-season break from the schedule. Instead of a shorter winter rest, matches will begin in mid-August after a three-week break in the summer, based on advice from medical and technical experts.

Additionally, starting from the fifth round onwards, the FA Cup will no longer feature replays, a decision made due to calendar adjustments driven by expanded UEFA competitions.

Under the agreement, the Premier League will boost its financial support to grassroots football by providing an extra £33 million.

Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango said football needs “a collective approach” to the global fixture calendar and “not a fight for available dates”.

He added: “The current unsustainable approach to the calendar needs to be seen as an issue for every club at every level if we want to continue to protect our domestic competitions.”

“The FA Cup is our biggest asset,” said FA chief executive Mark Bullingham.

“This new agreement between the FA and the Premier League strengthens the FA Cup and gives this very special tournament exclusive weekends in an increasingly busy calendar.”

The downside of the deal is summed up well by Fair Game chief executive Niall Couper, who said the decision “deprives lower league clubs of a much-needed source of revenue” and is a “short-sighted move that does nothing to strengthen the game”.

Tranmere Rovers vice-chair Nicola Palios also accused the FA and the Premier League of reaching an agreement “to suit themselves further at the expense of the rest of the football pyramid”.

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1716021164labto1716021164ofdlr1716021164owedi1716021164sni@g1716021164niwe.1716021164yrrah1716021164