COLUMN: FA Cup replays should be kept - but tweaking with cups is not an altogether bad proposal

There have been murmurs of the potential scrapping of FA Cup replays this week.

Thursday, 18th February 2016, 3:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2016, 3:45 pm
Chesterfield vs Scunthorpe - Sam clucas celebrates with Eoin Doyle as he puts Chesterfield into the lead against Scunthorpe in their fa cup replay - Pic By James Williamson

Congested fixture lists have been cited as the main reason for this proposal and at first glance you would have to say there is a fair argument.

Plenty of teams could do without an extra midweek jaunt and as a result would probably favour a straight-to-extra time scenario, with penalties afterwards if required.

However, there is no coincidence that these clubs are mostly from the top flight.

Once again the team with the least amount of league games per season (38) complains of fixture pile-up.

FA Cup replays have been bread and butter of the FA Cup for longer than most can recall.

Think of the magical moments that would never have happened had replays not been about.

The famous one that instantly comes to mind is Ryan Giggs’ wonder solo goal for Manchester United against Arsenal in 1999.

For non-league clubs especially the prospect of taking back one of the big guns is what dreams are made of.

Also, the handy boost to the coffers doesn’t hurt either.

Scrapping replays would mean teams would be punished financially for the luck of the draw.

If a lower-league team holds their own against a top flight outfit then surely they deserve a second crack at it rather than just being consigned to an extra 30 minutes and the lottery of a shoot-out?

The decision to review the cup formats isn’t an altogether bad thing though.

This columnist believes that there are a couple of tweaks that wouldn’t go amiss with the world’s oldest cup competition.

For a start, playing semi-finals at two different venues.

Whether that be the traditional grounds of Old Trafford and Villa Park, or other options such as the Emirates or the Etihad.

Wembley should be a one-off occasion to savour for the final itself and hosting semi-finals there just diminishes the experience of playing at the home of English football.

Another proposal mooted is to possibly scrap the two-legged system for League Cup semi-finals.

This is something I tend to agree with and a neutral venue may also serve a better purpose here - although it may be difficult with it being a midweek fixture.

This would reduce the fixture list slightly and also give it more the feel of a cup tie rather than a play-off match.

It will certainly be intriguing to see what becomes of these plans.