Football fans call for FA Cup boycott after replays scrapped

Football fans call for FA Cup boycott after replays scrapped
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Angry football fans have started a petition campaigning against The FA's decision to scrap FA Cup replays from the first round proper onwards - and are now campaigning for EFL and non-league clubs to boycott the competition altogether.

The FA announced on April 18 it had reached an agreement with the Premier League for that decision along with all rounds to be played on weekends, with the fourth, fifth and sixth (quarter-final) rounds all to be played exclusive of PL fixtures for the first time.

These changes will be in place for the next five seasons.

But there has been a huge backlash from EFL and non-league chiefs, clubs and fans as these replays can earn lower division teams a lot of money to help keep their club going or even boost them through the divisions.

The EFL has recently released a statement saying "ahead of the deal being announced there was no agreement with the EFL".

Even Chris Wilder, who manages Sheffield United that play in the Premier League, hit out at the changes, saying "there have been clubs that have had FA Cup runs and replays that have financially benefitted themselves for the next three, four, five years".

An example of this is Lincoln City - the Imps were in the National League when they went on an FA Cup run in the 2016/17 season stretching all the way to the quarter-finals.

They played Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium, becoming the first non-league side in 103 years to reach the last eight.

The Imps also knocked out Ipswich Town, Brighton and Burnley on their memorable run with a number of their games being broadcast live on TV.

Lincoln is now an established League One team, having won two promotions in three seasons to play in the third tier from the start of the 2019/20 season onwards.

In the same season, Sutton United, who were also playing non-league football at the time, reportedly earned around £700,000 from their cup run, which included a replay, when they reached the fifth round for the first time in their history.

Sutton currently play in League Two.

Explaining the decision and trying to address the backlash, The FA posted a statement on X / Twitter.

It said: "We have been discussing the calendar for the 2024/25 with the Premier League and EFL for well over a year.

"Removing replays was discussed in the early meetings and all parties accepted 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.

"To clarify, we have also increased the number of FA Cup matches that will be broadcast in the early rounds, which will lead to additional broadcast revenue for EFL and National League teams.

"We will keep this under review as the new calendar begins to ensure that EFL and National League clubs do not lose out."

But a lot of fans are still not happy with the decision - a petition has even been started so fans can have their say against the changes.

Premier League and Championship clubs enter the FA Cup from the third round proper onwards, with League One and League Two clubs from the first round proper.

The EFL has since released a statement which said: "Ahead of the deal being announced 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.

"This latest agreement between the Premier League and the 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 and that only serves to threaten the future of the English game.

"The EFL today calls on both the Premier League and the FA, as the governing body, to re-evaluate their approach to their footballing partnership with the EFL and engage more collaboratively on issues directly affecting our clubs."

On the back of this development, fans are calling for EFL and non-league clubs to boycott the competition entirely.

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