The FA have recently suggested implementing changes to the oldest domestic competition, the FA Cup. The changes surround the concept of replays and the suggestion is that replays should be scrapped to ease fixture congestion for the top clubs in England.
While this may benefit the top sides, most clubs in England will lose out. Furthermore, it will take away some of the "magic" the FA Cup is known and loved for.
Replays can be a real money spinner for non-league clubs who enjoy a lengthy run into the FA Cup. In 2013, Conference South side Dorchester Town earned £42,500 for reaching the second round proper of the FA Cup, before losing to Luton. Such sums of money are significant for teams lower down in the pyramid, as it can often help clubs remain financially solvent for a few years.
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Replays are also real money spinners. In 2013, from the third round onwards, teams hosting replays pay 5% of gate receipts into a fund known as the "FA Cup pool". Clubs who hosted replays from this stage onwards included Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. The FA also announced that in 2013, that the 32 non-league clubs who participated in the first round of the FA Cup, received a guaranteed sum of £11,313.
This season, more than £13 million has been paid out in prize money and broadcast fees.
The top clubs in England argue that replays only add to fixture congestion, meaning their players are often tired due to the extra games being played.
Jurgen Klopp has made his feelings towards domestic replays known. He argues that "too many games" hinders the chances of the England team as well as domestic clubs. He also joked he had to correct German friends who congratulated him for reaching a final after his team beat Stoke in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
But replays are an integral part of the FA Cup's history, without them, many famous moments would never have happened without the magic of a replay.
Without replays, Angelo Ogbonna's late goal against Liverpool would never have happened.
Other classic FA Cup moments, such as Ryan Giggs' solo goal against Arsenal, Adrian outwitting his opposite number Joel Robles in a shootout and the famous 4-4 Merseyside derby wouldn't have happened.
Replays are at the heart of the FA Cup, it gives lower league teams the chance to hold their own at their home ground in the hope of securing a replay away at Old Trafford or Anfield.
The financial reward for lower league teams securing replays away at big clubs is too important to get rid of. The magic of the cup must remain for the lower league clubs to truly capitalise on the value the competition brings to them.
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