Replays in the FA Cup could be scrapped permanently as Premier League chiefs seek ways to lighten the increasingly-cramped schedule.
A proposal will also be allowed for top-flight clubs to play an Under-21 team in the EFL Cup without sanctions as part of a ‘New Deal for Football’ initiative dreamt up by the Premier League.
If clubs vote positively on the potential amendments, the Premier League will then lobby the Football Association and the Football League to change the format of their cups.
FA Cup replays had been temporarily ditched during 2020/21 as fixture chaos kicked in, and then during the 2021/22 campaign they were also dropped from the third and fourth rounds.
A number of senior figures in the Premier League are concerned that the top clubs are playing too many games, and that situation will be exacerbated in 2024 when the Champions League is expanded to 36 teams – the four extra games that qualifiers will play will take up midweek slots that might otherwise be given to domestic cup replays.
And so penalty shootouts could replace replays in the third, fourth and fifth rounds if games are level after 90 minutes, with extra ties at the quarter-final stage already scrapped back in 2016. That could help more shock results to occur, with stronger Premier League sides likely to prevail in a replay over lower league opposition.
What Is the New Deal for Football?
The New Deal for Football directives have been brainstormed by Premier League head honchos who want to shape English football from top to bottom.
They want to retain the EFL Cup, recognising its commercial benefit to lower league sides, but will propose that teams that are in continental competitions will be allowed to play fringe players or Under-21 squad members exclusively. Currently, Rule 6.5 of the Football League regulations declares that teams playing in the EFL ‘shall play its full available strength’ eleven unless a ‘satisfactory reason’ is given, with penalties including fines and potentially expulsion from the cup available.
Premier League representatives are also set to suggest an overhaul of the current parachute payments scheme that benefits relegated sides. They want money – which could total £1.6 billion over the next three years – to be spread across all 72 EFL clubs instead, which prevents the Championship outfits previously demoted from the top-flight from having a significant financial advantage, given that they are currently handed around £44 million per season.
However, some have argued that the extra funding should be ringfenced for spending on improved infrastructure – rather than transfers, wages and agent fees.
Chelsea chief Todd Boehly also wants the proceeds from a North vs South all-star game to be donated to EFL clubs, although so far his outlandish plan has been met with a withering response.
All of the proposals that are on the table are set to be discussed at a shareholders’ meeting on September 21. If approved and agreed with the FA and Football League, they could be implemented in time for the 2024/25 season.