A significant and historic alteration has been announced for the 2024/25 season: Sunderland will no longer participate in FA Cup replays if a match ends in a draw in the esteemed tournament.

The FA has officially stated that the long-standing tradition of replays will be abolished starting next season, with the governing body asserting that this change will “enhance” the competition. It is anticipated that this decision may provoke criticism from lower-league clubs, as replays have traditionally served as a means for smaller teams to generate revenue.

Smaller clubs have traditionally benefited from the revenue generated by FA Cup fixtures through the split of gate receipts. Securing either an away draw or a replay against clubs with large stadiums has been particularly lucrative for them. However, with the removal of replays from the equation, smaller clubs stand to lose potential revenue. Nevertheless, there is a caveat to this change.


The Emirates FA Cup - Competitions | The Football Association

In return, the Premier League has committed to provide the football pyramid more financing, with an extra £33 million promised for grassroots soccer.

The shift likely stems from ongoing complaints from top-tier clubs in recent years regarding their strenuous schedules across various competitions. These grievances had previously prompted the elimination of replays from the fifth round onward during the COVID period.

Among other alterations, all rounds will now occur on weekends, reverting to past practice, with rounds four and five, along with the quarter-finals, scheduled for weekends without Premier League matches, potentially boosting viewership. The final will also take place on a weekend without Premier League fixtures, and it will be held on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season, allowing teams a rest before their final league match. Notably, replays have been eliminated from the first round onward, although they will still occur in the preliminary stages.

“The Emirates FA Cup is our biggest asset and generates over 60% of our revenue to invest in the game, so it is critical to secure a strong format for the future,” stated FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham in a statement. The Emirates FA Cup is strengthened by this new arrangement between the FA and the Premier League, which also grants this extremely exceptional tournament exclusive weekends in an ever-busier schedule.


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