FA Cup replays and Premier League winter break scrapped from next season

Summer break will become longer with new schedule

The FA has agreed to overhaul the format of the FA Cup in an attempt to secure the future of the competition, with replays to be dropped – starting from the first round proper – and the final moved from its position as the traditional end of season showpiece.

A result of lengthy negotiations between the FA and the Premier League the new settlement will see the latter increase funding to the football pyramid and grassroots by £33 million (€39 million) per season. There will also be knock-on effects to the entire domestic calendar with a longer gap between seasons and an end to the recently introduced winter break in the top flight.

The FA chief executive, Mark Bullingham, said the agreement “strengthens” the FA Cup, a key driver of revenues for the organisation. “The FA Cup is our biggest asset and generates over 60 per cent of our revenue to invest into the game so it is critical to secure a strong format for the future,” he said. “The new schedule ensures the magic of the cup is protected and enhanced, whilst working for the whole of the English game.”

Traditionally Cup replays have been seen as a chance for smaller clubs to earn substantial extra revenues. The League Two side Newport County, who had a fourth-round replay at Wembley against Tottenham in 2017, saw their turnover increase by nearly £1 million that season, enough to drag the club into profit. The new changes mean there will be no replays, with all games going to extra time and then penalties.


The Premier League will now contribute extra money to the Football Foundation, which supports the grassroots game, as well as the Premier League Stadium Fund, which can be accessed by non-league and EFL sides for infrastructure improvements. The Premier League will also shift its calendar to ensure league matches are no longer scheduled at the same time as FA Cup fifth-round and quarter-final games. The fourth round, meanwhile, will be played out over six days from Friday to Wednesday “to allow fans to watch consecutive days of FA Cup football”, according to the FA.

The Cup final is to be moved from its traditional position on the weekend after the last match of the Premier League season, to the weekend of the penultimate round of fixtures. The FA has agreed that the Cup final will be played on the Saturday, with no Premier League matches on that day or the preceding Friday, however a full round of top-flight matches will then take place on the Sunday.

Changes to the FA Cup schedule mean the current staggered winter break around the fourth round will come to an end. The FA says that change also enables a later start to the league season which, alongside pulling the final forward, means an extended summer break for players. “This longer summer break allows all Premier League clubs to be better able to ensure that players get a consecutive three-week break in the summer,” the FA said. “This takes into account expert advice from medical and technical departments, which values a longer period of complete rest in the summer rather than a short break in the winter.” – Guardian