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OPINION: Is the FA Cup now merely a matter of finances?

With the Premier League winter’s break on the horizon, several top flight clubs face fourth round FA Cup replays. Much has been contended whether the replays should fall within the winter break, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp controversially deciding that himself and his first team players will boycott their replay against Shrewsbury at Anfield on Tuesday after the 2-2 draw between the two teams.

For decades the FA Cup was viewed as a competition as one that was highly prestigious and one with real history. However, nowadays a vast number of the ‘bigger clubs’ are seemingly less concerned with the eldest club competition in world football, with Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola suggesting that replays in the competition should be scrapped.

In my opinion, top flight clubs are more fixated on the finances gained with ensuring top flight survival within the Premier League, while the FA Cup only offers a comparatively lesser financial incentive with progression throughout the competition.

This viewpoint is echoed by the Telegraph Sports Correspondent FA Cup Jim White, who disputed Klopp and Guardiola’s claims of scrapping replays in the competition, citing the income lower league clubs can generate in the competition.

“I think the problem with the FA Cup at the moment is that all the money is in the Premier League, so the priority for every team is survival or in the instance of someone chasing the title like Manchester City it is to win the Premier League, ” says White. “However for the lower league clubs the FA Cup is a financial lifeline, for example Oxford United’s replay against Newcastle on Tuesday night it is a real windfall financially for them”.

“They had a good game up at Newcastle in the first game and they got some nice income from that, but they’ve got a full house, tickets sold out and it’s got television coverage which will bring them £100,000. So they’ve got a chance of £250,000 more than would’ve otherwise made and that is a massive addition to their income”.

White adds: “If they were to scrap replays, it may perhaps be fine for a Champions League chasing club but that would be two, three or four teams (exempt) from the competition and that would be really wrong”.

Arguably the main reason why replays are so important to smaller clubs is not sporting at all, it’s financial. In their most recent accounts, Shrewsbury made a profit of £340,878 on a turnover of about £6.5m. This illustrates how much difference two games against Liverpool, including TV broadcast fees and a full house at home and a trip to Anfield, can make. Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts, says the replay could allow them to improve the drainage at their training ground, buy video analysis equipment and even “change the club’s future”. It seems wrong to deny them the chance to earn that kind of payday.

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For the relief of lower league clubs, cup competitions will remain in England for the foreseeable future. However, having already stopped replays at the fourth round of the FA Cup, they are in jeopardy. The importance of replays and the cups are undermined by many. They need to remain.

Click above below to hear White’s perspective on Manchester United’s stalemate against Wolves in the Premier League this weekend and their difficulties in the January Transfer Market, including their failure to sign wonderkind Erling Braut Haaland after the Norwegian signed for Borrusia Dortmund.

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