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English FA Cup replays scrapped from first round next season

FA Cup replays will be scrapped from the first round onwards from next season as part of an agreement with the Premier League, the Football…

FA Cup replays will be scrapped from the first round onwards from next season as part of an agreement with the Premier League, the Football Association announced on Thursday.

The FA had already dropped replays from the fifth round onwards and said the move to ditch them altogether had been agreed “in light of changes to the calendar driven by the expanded UEFA (European) competitions”.

From next season, the Champions League will feature an extra 64 games, creating increased pressure on the domestic calendar.

The FA said all rounds of the FA Cup would now be played at weekends including the fifth round, which has been played in midweek for the past five seasons.

There will be no Premier League matches on weekends set aside for the fourth and fifth rounds as well as the quarter-finals.

Teams from the third and fourth tiers of English football enter the FA Cup in the first round, with Premier League and Championship clubs joining from the third round. There are previous qualifying rounds.

The changes, which are part of a six-year agreement, will also mean the removal of the mid-season break from the calendar.

The English top-flight will start the 2024/25 season in mid-August to give players a consecutive three-week break, taking into account “expert advice from medical and technical departments”.

FA Cup replays have provided a cash windfall to any lower league clubs involved, with the ‘smaller’ team benefitting from additional broadcast payments and increased gate revenues when up against a major side.

As part of the new deal, the Premier League is “providing up to an additional £33 million ($41 million) for grassroots football”.

The FA said the agreement would secure up to £133 million per season in funding in total from the 2025/26 campaign.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “The FA Cup is our biggest asset and generates over 60 per cent of our revenue to invest into the game, so it is critical to secure a strong format for the future.

“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.”

He added: “The longer summer period also allows a much-needed player break before the start of the next season.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “Throughout our discussions, both parties have been committed to enhancing the scheduling of the FA Cup, a hugely important domestic competition with a storied history.”

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