English FA make rule change that will impact Bristol City and Rovers’ Cup ties in January

Bristol Rovers played Oxford United in an FA Cup replay earlier this season. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)Bristol Rovers played Oxford United in an FA Cup replay earlier this season. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
Bristol Rovers played Oxford United in an FA Cup replay earlier this season. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Ties to be decided on the day as FA choose to scrap replays to avoid fixture congestion

The English FA have taken the decision to scrap replays for the next two rounds of the FA Cup.

After a rise in Covid cases following the emergence of the Omicron variant, the football calendar has been muddled with games needing to be arranged.

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As a result, the football association has taken action which will help relieve pressure placed on clubs.

It means that both Bristol City and Bristol Rovers will find out their fate on the day of their matches, with extra time and penalties rather than a reply.

City are scheduled to face Championship rivals Fulham at Ashton Gate whilst Rovers are away to Peterborough.

The rule change means that moments like Rovers’ dramatic win over Oxford United, which happened after a 2-2 draw at their ground, is unable to happen and instead they’ll have to cause an upset at London Road.

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A statement read: “The FA can confirm that replays have been removed in both the Third and Fourth Rounds of the 2021-22 Emirates FA Cup.

“This exceptional decision was approved by The FA Board on Friday, December 17 and has been taken in the wider interest of English football to alleviate the possibility of fixture congestion following several postponements in recent days and continued uncertainty ahead due to Covid-19.

“Ties in the Third and Fourth Rounds of this season’s competition will be played to a finish on the day, with extra-time and penalties if required.

“Replays will return up to and including the Fourth Round of the Emirates FA Cup from the 2022-23 season onwards.”

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Already two of the Gas’ matches have been postponed as a result of being unable to field a team due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases in the squad.

Their match against Barrow has already been rearranged for early March as a result of both sides’ progression in the cup.

It means that at least two matches of Rovers’ will need to be rearranged and there could be more upheaval in the coming weeks with other clubs potentially affected.

The footballing world is split in whether to implement a circuit breaker in football to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

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Both the EFL and the Premier League yesterday pledged to continue the season as normal despite last week’s decimation of the fixture list.

Robins boss Nigel Pearson is of the opinion that football should continue and that the footballing authorities should put more of an emphasis on vaccination.

City themselves have a 95% vaccination rate amongst their squad and a large proportion of the squad received boosters yesterday.

"What should have happened by now is clubs should have been more proactive in getting their players and staff vaccinated,” he said.

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"You’ll probably see a correlation between clubs who have a lot of cases and vaccination programmes.

"I don’t see the point in the leagues being reactive to things, they should be on the front foot in driving programmes to get protection for the people who work in the industry, so the industry can keep going and the public can see the games.”

Their league match with Luton Town at Kenilworth Road on Boxing Day, is still scheduled to go ahead.

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