FA Cup: FA respond to angry backlash as clubs furious over ‘disgraceful’ changes | Football | Sport

The Football Association has published a lengthy statement in response to mass criticism after announcing incoming changes to the FA Cup this week. On Friday, the FA strongly refuted claims that EFL and National League clubs weren’t properly consulted about potential revenue losses via the removal of replays in all rounds.

A day earlier, a deal between the governing body and the Premier League to scrap replays and move the final to the penultimate weekend of the top-flight campaign was confirmed.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham explained the changes would guarantee a “strong format for the future” after the Premier League raised concerns about the expansion of European competitions from next season.

However, lower league clubs have historically benefitted from extra revenue from FA Cup replays, so it was no surprise to see the decision spark mass criticism throughout the football pyramid.

Among the outrage, Mark Palios, former FA CEO and executive chair of League Two outfit Tranmere Rovers, labelled the move “an absolute disgrace”.

The FA – which generates most of its revenue from the FA Cup – has since publicly responded to the widespread concerns, assuring angry clubs that they will still see financial benefits from competing in the competition.

It read: “We have listened to the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and would like to outline the approval process which was undertaken for the 2024-25 professional game football calendar.

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“We have been discussing the calendar for the 2024-25 season with the Premier League and EFL for well over a year.

“Removing Emirates FA Cup replays was discussed in the early meetings and all parties accepted that 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.

“The changes to the Emirates FA Cup achieve this by returning it to a weekend competition on every round, and ensuring that we have exclusive broadcast slots in an increasingly congested calendar.

To clarify, we have also increased the number of Emirates FA Cup matches that will be broadcast in the early rounds, which will lead to additional guaranteed broadcast revenue for EFL and National League teams. Additionally, we review the prize money annually for the competition, together with representatives from the EFL and PL and will do the same for the 2024-25 season.

“The calendar for next season was approved by the Professional Game Board, which consists of four EFL representatives and four Premier League representatives, last month, and then by the FA Board, which includes Premier League, EFL, National Game and grassroots representation. This is the process we undergo every year to approve the calendar.

“We understand the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and we will be sharing more details with clubs very shortly to explain the additional revenue opportunities in the early rounds.

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

The topic will undoubtedly be prevalent this weekend when the FA Cup semi-finals take place at Wembley Stadium.

On Saturday, Chelsea face Manchester City in a blockbuster clash before Championship side Coventry City take on Manchester United in a story of David vs Goliath on Sunday.

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