FA Cup Replays
When it was first announced that there were plans to scrap FA Cup replays, my first response could be summed up as “oh here we go, the big clubs screwing over the little ones again.”
It’s fair to say I was very much opposed to the idea, and classed it with the same bracket of stupid decisions such as to have FA Cup semi’s at Wembley and FA Cup finals kicking off at 5:15.
However, over the last 24 hours I’ve read more about the subject, and my opinion has been completely changed.
The arguments which are mainly used to defend replays come with the financial benefits for the smaller club or the excitement value of an extra tie. When opposing the practice, people will usually point to the sheer amount of games English clubs play compared to others in other countries.
While both have merits, one is based purely upon sentiment and the other on fact and common sense.
Replays do provide small clubs with a much needed cash boost, but these instances are few and far between and in reality very rarely lead to anything other than an immediate help. I can’t think of any examples where a club has had so much financial help from a replay that they’ve sailed through the leagues to join the big boys.
The best example of the top of my head is Exeter. Earlier this year, they held Liverpool – then lost the replay 3-0. In 2005, they earned a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, only to lose to Rooney and Ronaldo in the replay. Exeter currently sit 14th in League 2. Has the money from these two replays really aided them?
In terms of excitement, we only remember the modern day replays that came to life in the last few seconds of the game. My two favourite FA Cup replays were both awful matches, with late late goals. In ’09, Dan Gosling scored a goal which no-one in the south saw to help Everton beat Liverpool, and in ’11 Leighton Baines scored a free kick with seconds remaining to help force Chelsea – Everton into a penalty shoot-out. Even this season, West Ham’s last minute winner against Liverpool only meant the finish was exciting.
I could go on, but the argument for scrapping replays is best summed up by Oliver Kay writing for the times – a screenshot of which can be found below.
Kay mentions a winter break. It’s an idea to which I am still opposed (you can’t beat Boxing Day football) however we definitely should look at reducing workload around this time of year. After all, one of the reasons England never do well at international tournaments is because our players burn out.
I never thought I’d see the day where I’d argue against change and against tradition, but here it is.
FA Cup replays: your time is up.