Argyle v Liverpool

Club Statement: Emirates FA Cup Replays

Having taken in Thursday’s news at the removal of replays from the Emirates FA Cup, and noted Friday’s update from the FA, followed by a formal response from the EFL, we feel now is a good time to inform everyone of our stance on the issue. 

Our overriding emotions are of disappointment, and this is essentially twofold. Firstly, we are saddened at the proposed abolition of replays, which are long established within our oldest, most treasured competition.

Secondly, it is very disappointing that such a decision has been taken with very little consultation with clubs at various levels. Had such consultation taken place, we feel very confident that the FA would have met with huge resistance, aside from a small number of elite clubs that benefit from this modification.  

Friday’s FA statement indicates that consultations have taken place, but Plymouth Argyle have not been part of any consultations and neither, according to their recent statement, have the EFL at large. 

As custodians of the game of football in England, the FA have a duty to represent not just the Premier League and the EFL, but teams throughout the footballing pyramid. One of the beauties of the FA Cup is that teams at various levels can come into contact, and replays enhance the joy of these meetings. 

On one hand, there is the financial implication; how a smaller club can earn a second encounter with a giant of English football, and get compensated accordingly. In addition, there is that intangible of the romantic side of our game, the enjoyment we all, as supporters, can get by having an experience at a major stadium, or bringing a team back to your own ground. 

We have our own examples in recent years. Not only did we benefit financially from two televised games against Liverpool in 2017, but we had a unique experience for supporters, bringing Liverpool to Home Park for the second tie. Finances that we, as a club, accrued from the Liverpool match and replay were specifically invested into projects that went towards our future sustainability.

More recently, we drew 1-1 with reigning European Champions Chelsea after 90 minutes in 2022. It was a tremendous experience, and a very memorable game, but it would have been enhanced even further by bringing Chelsea back to Home Park. 

On that occasion, it was understandable to have no replays, as football sought to catch up from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is a tangible example of the disappointment others may face in coming seasons if replays are no longer a feature of the world-admired and envied FA Cup. 

It is clear from a series of responses from teams in the EFL, National League and below that the proposals are overwhelmingly being rejected from football as a whole. Our experiences of listening to our fanbase also indicate a widespread condemnation of the removal of replays. 

We stand with supporters and our fellow football clubs on this issue, which we not only feel is misguided, but has been taken without the consultation and care that surely should be an enshrined prerequisite. 

Euro 2024 at Home park