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EFL clubs are coming together to demand a major FA Cup U-turn

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 first round replays further undermines its prestige and does nothing to protect our cherished football pyramid.

The Premier League’s influence on this decision is yet another example of the growing divide in football, which has widened the gap between and within divisions at all levels. Participating clubs in the FA Cup were not consulted. Both our clubs and fans have been let down.

We are determined to overturn this decision and fully support amending the Football Governance Bill to ensure that such a move can never happen again without the support of a majority of eligible clubs. FA Cup replays provide lasting memories for generations of football fans – and those memories are priceless.

Go to any club and there will be pictures on the wall of great cup memories, as their fans remember 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 highly regarded domestic cup competition in the world. It’s not just about the finances, it’s about the power dynamics within football. That needs to be overhauled.

Concerns about an overcrowded agenda also do not hold water. In the last ten years there have been fewer than ten 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 in the 2024/25 season – will play a minimum of 50 games. That includes 38 league matches, including at least one in the FA Cup, one in the EFL Cup and ten group stage matches in the Champions League.

The League One and League Two clubs – and there are 48 of them – will play a minimum of 51 matches (46 in the league, at least one FA Cup and one EFL Cup tie, and three EFL trophy group matches). That is eleven more than the Premier League clubs that do not qualify for Europe. In the National League the situation is also full, with at least 48 matches for their 72 clubs (46 in the League, and at least one each in the FA Cup and FA Trophy).

This decision must be reversed. This decision has become totemic to the way the game is run. Decisions are made behind closed doors. There is a lack of transparency, a lack of consistency and a lack of honesty. We, the undersigned, call for an immediate reintroduction of FA Cup replays and encourage all supporters to lobby their MPs to support the Fair Game Amendment.

Neil Hart, managing director of Bolton Wanderers
Nick Hawker, Chairman, Exeter City
Neil Peters, Head of Operations, Wycombe Wanderers
Nigel Clibbens, Managing Director of Carlisle United
Clive Nates, Chairman, Lincoln City
Mick Buckley, Chairman, AFC Wimbledon
Andy Holt, Owner, Accrington Stanley
Gareth Evans, Secretary, Newport County AFC
Anthony Hall, general manager of Swindon Town
Mark Palios, co-owner, Tranmere Rovers
Jason Stockwood, co-owner, Grimsby Town
Bill Waterson, co-chairman of Altrincham FC
Neil Pinkerton, Chairman, Gateshead FC
Damian Irvine, Managing Director of Ebbsfleet United
Simon Gauge, Chairman, Rochdale AFC
Matt and Julie-Anne Uggla, co-owners, York City FC
Marc White, Owner, Dorking Wanderers
Geoff Thompson, Chairman, South Shields FC
Mike Vickers, Director, Chester FC
David Johnston, Managing Director of Darlington FC
Stephen Cleeve, co-owner, King’s Lynn Town FC
Oliver Ash, co-owner, Maidstone United
David Boggins, Chairman, Hemel Hempstead Town FC
Jack Miller, Chairman, Basingstoke Town
Paul Leary, Chairman, Marine FC
Jim Ayres, Business Manager, Salisbury FC
Phil Young, Chairman, Bury FC