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INTERVIEW: It all worries me

19 April 2024


INTERVIEW: It all worries me

19 April 2024

We spoke to Carlisle United director and FA Council member John Nixon this afternoon to get his thoughts on yesterday’s decision to scrap FA Cup replays.

“The FA stopped replays after the fifth round a number of years ago,” he said. “Stopping them for earlier rounds has been talked about since then without anything definitive being agreed.

“It was thought that it could be something that might come into the conversation when we looked at agreeing a new deal for redistribution of money with the Premier League.  The EFL statement says that today too.

“I’ve been out of the loop on the internal EFL board discussions since last June after leaving the EFL board, but as an FA Council member I got an email from the FA at 10.56am yesterday saying that an announcement would be coming out at 11am.

“By the time I saw the email, it had already come out. It was an announcement between the FA and the Premier League saying that they were scrapping replays and putting more money into grass roots football.”

“I was immediately concerned about it,” he continued. “The notice that came out yesterday didn’t mention the EFL, it was only an agreement between the FA and the Premier League.

“When it came out and it said that there would be no replays, I knew there had been no consultation, but it did indicate that it had gone through the Professional Game Board and the FA Board. People at the EFL must have known about it, so I was really concerned. 

“I immediately wrote to the EFL reps for League One, Jez Moxey from Burton Albion and Steve Curwood from Fleetwood Town, to say I thought the lower league clubs had been terribly let down and I felt uncomfortable about it. I haven’t had a reply from them which I’m also disappointed by.

“The FA look as though they’ve only got £33m extra in funding out of it. It all worries me, I don’t like it. 

“I also contacted Richard McDermott who is the FA secretary last night to ask him to raise the issue at our next FA Council meeting in May, which will be my last meeting.

“Richard came back to me this morning and said I can raise it to the CEO and the Chair, which is great, so I’ve got a slot for the meeting on 10 May.

“I don’t know why it wasn’t considered that we could have had replays until maybe the third round, or why clubs weren’t consulted on any of this when it must have been known.

“In the meantime, I’ve had Andy Ambler [Director of Professional Game Relations] from the FA on the phone to explain what the deal is all about and how it benefits some sections of the game, but I still maintain that it’s wrong for the lower league clubs. I didn’t agree to disagree with Andy, we had completely different points of view.

“I have a real concern because the Premier League are dictating to the FA. They are dictating the timings and replays and how the FA Cup is being run. Effectively, for £33m my simple take is that the FA have given over the management and control of the FA Cup to the Premier League. The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world, it has a real magic to it, so to do this feels totally wrong.”

“I’ve just seen the statement from the EFL and they are taking a stand which is good,” John concluded. “From what I understand, this was discussed at the latest FA PGB meeting and there were EFL reps there for that meeting.

“I think the whole thing should be reconsidered. If the FA, as they told me this morning, are still in charge of the FA Cup, then they can reconsider it. If they aren’t and if they have sold their soul for £33m, then the Premier League will tell them they can’t do anything about it.”

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