Amid a congested domestic football season, proposals for changes to the FA Cup and League Cup have emerged.
The last two seasons have seen FA Cup replays paused for the third and fourth round of the competition, with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the schedule. While the same has not been the case this season, postponements after the death of Queen Elizabeth II have prompted questions about scheduling this season.
While the 2022-23 League Cup has been impacted by the winter World Cup, with third, fourth and fifth round games taking place later than they did last term, uncertainty remains over the FA Cup. Despite no final decision yet being made regarding the scrapping of replays, longer-term plans for both competitions have now come to light.
According to The Times, new proposals are set to be discussed at a Premier League shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday. Among the ideas on the table is a potential move to scrap third and fourth round FA Cup replays for good from 2024.
The radical changes proposed would also see the role of the League Cup changed. The competition has been dominated by the Premier League’s big-hitters of late, but suggested reforms would see top teams – those involved in European competitions – field under-21 sides in the competition or pull out completely.
Such an approach has been put forward in an effort to ease fixture congestion for the biggest clubs in the country. However, with no team outside the top-flight making the final since Bradford City in 2013, the measures could well change the future of the competition drastically.
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The report from The Times suggests teams from further down the pyramid could be open to the new proposals. However, the EFL has yet to be approached on the suggested reforms.
Other potential changes had reportedly been on the table as part of what is being dubbed a “New Deal for Football,” which is part of a plan to distribute further funds to EFL sides while also reforming the parachute payment system which currently helps teams relegated from the top flight.
There had been suggestions that the League Cup could be scrapped, or the FA Cup schedule could be changed to move all matches to midweek. Both competitions have seen changes made to their structure of late, with the League Cup changing early rounds from two legs to one in 2001 and the FA Cup removing quarter-final and fifth-round replays in recent years.
The proposed changes come ahead of suggested tweaks to the format of the Champions League from 2024 onwards. Europe’s top club competition potentially adding extra fixtures to the calendar. With four Premier League teams involved from the group stage onwards, a number of measures to ease fixture congestion continue to be explored.