Tonight there are four FA Cup 5th Round replays and this has promptly reminded me of my dislike of the use of replays in the competition. I am aware that to change the format of such a traditional cup competition will not sit well with many but for me removing replays would help revamp the tournament which many are claiming has 'lost it's magic'.
Surely the idea of a knock-out system is that each game should be a one off, winner takes it all contest. Having the safety net of a playing for a draw to secure a replay takes away from the excitement of this. Teams settling in the final twenty minutes of a game because neither sides wants to risk their place in the cup by going for the win ruins the spectacle of the whole FA Cup, Man City's match against Stoke highlighted this point perfectly.
People watch these competitions for the giant killing moments and the end to end open football that cup matches, unlike league games, can regularly provide. The prospect of extra-time and penalties are what provide the memorable moments of the FA Cup and removing replays would create more of such moments. Don't let teams play conservatively to take a game back to their stadium, make sure that the winner is decided on the day and the more matches that therefore go to extra-time and penalties the better, that is what the FA Cup is all about!
The other part of the FA Cup that I believe should be changed is how the semi-finals are also played at Wembley. This again ruins the spectacle of the competition. Getting to walk out to play at Wembley should be a privelidge reserved for the two sides that make the final only so as to keep it as special and unique as possible. Playing the semi-finals at Wembley, like replays, may help generate more income for the competition but it jeopardises the things that people love about knock-out cup competition.
Likewise the League Cup could do with a change to it's format. The two-legged semi-finals help to counter-act the excitement that the competition can potentially offer. No one, the teams included, would want for these matches to be drawn out over two legs. They do not carry the importance or spectacle of European competitions nor is the home advantage as important. Just keep them over one match, in a neutral stadium (not Wembley). Why bother changing the rules for the semi-finals over??
By introducing such changes the appeal of the competitions would surely be enhanced. Although the traditionalists may dislike the idea of tampering with such formats, I feel as though they help the FA and League Cups to become more of an entertaining spectacle and would almost certainly help produce more magic cup moments.
Your comments and opinions are welcomed and encouraged as ever...