Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Time to Rethink the Replays

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...


  1. I massively agree with the Wembley semi-final argument you propose. However, your wish will not be coming true for the forseeable future because a deal was signed when Wembley opened to host the semi's for 10 years. I also think it would be a good thing for the League Cup to have a one off semi. To some, it may seem strange that a competition with one off games then has a two-legged semi but the League Cup was a two-legged affair for a long time. The authorities decided to change it to one game several years ago due to fixture congestion and kept the semi's as they were. I think now it may be time for change.

    With regard to the replays, I am undecided. I think the FA Cup is a massively traditional competition and don't want to see it changed and i think the needless fixtures argument only comes from the big boys who are more concerned with European competitions who are more of a detriment to the competition than potential replays spoiling games.

  2. I think the FA cup needs a rethink generally, not just on replays. The competition doesn't really interest me at all these days. I'll admit that the cup still serves up some great moments but I find myself thoroughly disappointed every time I realise that it is an FA cup weekend and not a full Premier League match day.

    I have heard it being argued that the FA cup should be made an invitational competition where teams from abroad can be invited to enter. Can you imagine having Scunthorpe away to Real Madrid in the 3rd round? That would certainly make it more interesting. I would also add that this would not be breaking from the tradition of the cup, far from it in fact as the FA cup started as an invitational which is the reason we still have Welsh teams in the competition to this day.

    Maybe starting by inviting Rangers and Celtic to enter would be a good idea? I'm sure they would be desperate to play and prove a point to everybody and it would be a fascinating experiment.


Previous posts