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The FA Cup and Replays

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Heard a bit at the end of last week and the start of this week about the FA Cup and more specifically replays and whether we should still have them or they should be scraped completely.

I, firstly, don’t blame Premier League or Championship sides for resting players at the FA Cup Third Round stage. Premier League and Championship teams played four league games in the space of approximately eleven or twelves over the Christmas period and so, the FA Cup is going to see players rested. It’s only natural. Especially when you consider seven Premier League sides have the rigours of European Football to contend with, Championship sides have played 26 games to date and clubs across both leagues have multiple International players and have to be aware of the commitment of International Football, that has seen at least six games at UEFA level already this season. 

I’m probably in the minority when I say that I think footballers play too many games these days. Yes, I know players in the past played many games, on far worse pitches, without the technological help the current players get, all while holding down full time jobs in mines and running pubs but just because it was acceptable then, it doesn’t mean it is now and as I’ve alluded to above, Football has changed. The demands on a current top end Premier League player is phenomenal when you actually break it down and the same can be said of Championship players who have a 46 game season to contend with and possibly International Football, too. I’m going way off topic here but I’d happily see less demand placed on a footballer. 

And all of the above is a by product of the FA Cup losing some of its charm and magic. It’s not ranked as highly by clubs anymore and I don’t blame them from a footballing and business point of view. With a fan’s hat on, it’s a different story. 

Replays are a big part of the so-called “magic” of the cup. It certainly wouldn’t have held the same charm at the weekend had Aaron Wilbraham’s goal only meant Rochdale had earnt half hour’s more Football against Newcastle. 

I can understand the arguments for scraping replays but I think it would be sad if it were to happen. What I’d rather is the two clubs drawn out must agree on whether there’s a replay or not. If one says they don’t want a replay and the other says they do, that’s it, there’s a replay and no money can change hands to sway a club’s decision making. This way, I’m certain Rochdale would have requested a replay at the weekend and Wolves and Man United would have probably happily played out another half hour of Football. I think this retains some of the charm of the competition and it will also provide some memorable extra time and penalties moments. 

I understand I sound a bit hypocritical having said that players play too many games but no league is going to ever vote in less league games, especially considering the value of the Premier League but I do think the FA Cup is sacred and a compromise should be found for this. 

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