By Chris Wright
According to a report in this morning’s Guardian, the Football Association (FA) are considering scrapping FA Cup replays in a bid to free up room in the crowded domestic fixture list for a two-week winter break.
The proposal is just one of the options the FA are looking into, in a bid to revitalise the 139-year-old competition which is struggling with dwindling attendance figures as club’s priorities shift elsewhere.
The Premier League board have always been resistant to the idea of a mid-season break, arguing that there is no room in the already-congested schedule, but it would appear that they are willing to discuss a compromise with the FA – if replays are indeed t0 be axed.
However, both the Premier League and the FA would seek mutual assurances that the break would not be undermined, i.e. by clubs filling the interval with money-spinning foreign tours or the staging of meaningless international friendlies.
There are also concerns that removing the replays could have an impact on the FA’s broadcasting and sponsorship deals, as well as affecting the revenue of any smaller clubs that would potentially benefit from lucrative replays against larger (and wealthier) opposition.
It’s a pretty good, straight-forward idea in theory but alas, if the FA and the Premier League’s income is to be threatened in any way, shape or form – then you can almost guarantee that their vested interests will take priority.
FA Cup replays wouldn’t be a particularly huge loss to the domestic calendar and it would be fascinating to see if a winter break did actually improve the performances of the English national side in major tournaments.
In fact, what would be more fascinating would be to hear the next excuse our redundant (but well-rested) bunch of big-time Charlies come up with the next time they fizzle out – the mind boggles…