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Club Statement: abolition of FA Cup replays

We are dismayed by the FA’s decision to abolish replays in the FA Cup from first round proper onwards, from next season.

Sadly, we cannot say that we are at all surprised to see ‘the magic of the FA Cup’ cast aside to satisfy the demands of the richest clubs in the country. The complete lack of respect for clubs throughout the rest of the pyramid, and the disregard for the views of supporters up and down the country, is unfortunately what we have now come to expect.

Even so, to see the Chief Executive of the FA stating that this agreement ‘works for the whole of the English game’ is quite remarkable - considering that the overwhelming majority of clubs in the English game have never even been asked what they think about it. 

In launching their new five-year strategic plan in 2020, the FA described their vision as ‘to bring all parts of the game even closer together’. Far from that, we fail to see how this decision does anything other than benefit the top 3% of clubs, at the expense of the other 97% who proudly take part in the FA Cup each year.

Cup replays have long been a staple of the competition and have provided an opportunity for non-league clubs to generate much-needed revenue and increase their profile. More importantly, the history of the competition demonstrates that replays have played a significant role in creating so many memories, which span generations of football supporters.

In recent years, we think of the likes of Chasetown, Havant & Waterlooville and Sutton United whose famous Cup runs all saw them progress after a replay. Perhaps the biggest giant killing in the history of the competition, and the one which is still mentioned when the media talk of ‘the magic of the Cup’, was Hereford United’s victory over Newcastle United in a Third Round Replay more than fifty years ago.

Is it likely that our ten men who had given it their all that day would’ve managed to hang on in extra time against Brighton and Hove Albion back in 2010? The replay of that fixture, despite the result, was an incredible moment in the club’s history and remains our record home attendance.

For all the talk of bringing the game together, this stands out as yet another example of rich clubs throwing money around to get exactly what they want, whilst the game’s governing body stands on the sidelines allowing traditions to be thrown out of the window.

A Football Supporters Association survey last year found that 70% of supporters believe that replays are an important part of what makes the FA Cup what it is. Apparently, this does not matter - the demands of a tiny minority of wealthy clubs are put before the history and heritage of the world’s oldest cup competition.

At a time when so many non-league clubs are struggling to make ends meet during this cost-of-living crisis, we are once again an afterthought as the big clubs are handed yet another advantage.

We believe there is a better way forward for football in this country than the ever-increasing focus on what the Premier League wants, and it is about time that non-league clubs across the country get a fair hearing when our governing body is making decisions that affect all of us.

We will continue to be a strong voice for good governance in the game, and we believe supporters voices should be heard. If you believe the ideals of our club and want to add your voice to our cause, you might consider joining us as a co-owner.

 


First Posted ~ 21:47 Thu 18 Apr 2024
News ID ~ 9865
Last Updated ~ 23:04 Thu 18 Apr 2024