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📝 FA Cup Replays: An open letter to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

1 May 2024

Club News

📝 FA Cup Replays: An open letter to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

1 May 2024

From the Exeter City Supporters' Trust:

Dear Lucy Frazer,

We want to save the FA Cup.

The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world and the decision to remove FA Cup replays from the first-round proper further undermines its prestige and does nothing to help protect our cherished football pyramid.

The Premier League’s influence in this decision is yet another example of football’s growing divide that has seen the gaps between and within divisions grow at all levels.

Participating clubs in the FA Cup were not consulted. Our clubs as well as the fans have been let down.

We are determined to see this decision reversed and fully support amending the Football Governance Bill to make sure such a move can never happen again without the backing of a majority of eligible clubs.

FA Cup replays create lasting memories for generations of football fans – and it is those memories that are priceless.

Go to any club and there will be photos on the walls of great Cup memories, while their fans will be able to recall those magical FA Cup nights.
We all remember ties like Cambridge United v Manchester United (2015), Hereford United v Newcastle United (1972), Leeds United v Wimbledon (1975), Arsenal v Leyton Orient (2011), and Watford v Tranmere (2020).
This whole flawed process has devalued the most prized domestic cup competition in the world.

It is not just about finances, it is about the power dynamics within football. That needs to be overhauled.

Concerns about a packed calendar also do not stand up.
In the last 10 years, there have been fewer than 10 occasions when a club playing in European football has been taken to an FA Cup replay.
Meanwhile, a Premier League club that qualifies for the Champions League - and there will be only four of them in the 2024/25 season - will play a minimum of 50 matches. That includes 38 league games, at least one in the FA Cup, one in the EFL Cup, and 10 Champions League group-stage fixtures.
However, League One and League Two clubs - and there are 48 of them - will play a minimum of 51 matches (46 in the league, a minimum of one FA Cup and one EFL Cup tie, and three EFL trophy group games). That’s 11 more than Premier League clubs that don’t qualify for Europe.
In the National League the situation is also packed with a minimum of 48 matches for their 72 clubs (46 in the League, and a minimum of one each in the FA Cup and the FA Trophy).
This decision needs to be overturned.
This decision has become totemic for how the game is being run. Decisions are being made behind closed doors. There is a lack of transparency, a lack of consistency, and a lack of fairness.
We, the undersigned, call for an immediate reinstatement of FA Cup replays and are encouraging all supporters to lobby their MPs to back the Fair Game amendment.
  • Neil Hart, Chief Executive, Bolton Wanderers
  • Nick Hawker, Chairman, Exeter City
  • Nigel Clibbens, Chief Executive, Carlisle United
  • Liam Scully, Chief Executive, Lincoln City
  • Mick Buckley, Chair, AFC Wimbledon
  • Andy Holt, Owner, Accrington Stanley
  • Gareth Evans, Secretary, Newport County AFC
  • Anthony Hall, Chief Executive, Swindon Town
  • Mark Palios, Co-owner, Tranmere Rovers
  • Jason Stockwood, Co-owner, Grimsby Town
  • Neil Pinkerton, Chairman, Gateshead FC
  • Damian Irvine, Chief Executive, Ebbsfleet United
  • Simon Gauge, Chair, Rochdale AFC
  • Marc White, Owner, Dorking Wanderers
  • Geoff Thompson, Chair, South Shields FC
  • Mike Vickers, Director, Chester FC
  • David Johnston, Chief Executive, Darlington FC
  • Stephen Cleve, owner, King’s Lynn Town FC
  • Oliver Ash, Co-owner, Maidstone United
  • David Boggins, Chairman, Hemel Hempstead Town FC
  • Jack Miller, Chair, Basingstoke Town
  • Richard Cross, Secretary, Marine FC
  • Jim Ayres, Business Manager, Salisbury FC

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