‘Radical’ FA Cup plans could affect Bristol City and Bristol Rovers

Plans for the 2024/25 FA Cup onwards could affect Bristol City and Bristol Rovers
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The FA Cup could be set for a ‘radical shake-up’ according to an exclusive report from the Daily Mail.

Mail Sport report that the FA are considering selling the FA Cup’s international rights to the Premier League. The Times adds that the deal is ‘poised to go through’ and could lead to the FA relinquishing control of the competition.

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In the Mail’s report, they believe the terms of the deal would see the Premier League sell overseas TV rights for the next ten years from the 2024/25 season. It would see Premier League clubs get control for the entire domestic calendar.

Changes to world football’s oldest cup competition - which has been in existence for 152-years, could include scrapping replays and moving the final away from the final game of the domestic calendar. It could also see the early rounds of the competition could be played in midweek, but the positive side of it is an increased payment to fund grassroots football.

“It is vital the FA maintains complete control of the FA Cup,” said former FA chairman David Bernstein to The Times.

“We have already seen the loss of cup replays and the FA Cup being squeezed, and if the international rights are taken over by the Premier League this will be another sign of the weakening of the competition.

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“The FA Cup has suffered because of the success of the Premier League and European competitions — no one can pretend it has the same status as 20 or 30 years ago.

“Even if it means more money than the FA could get elsewhere, it puts more authority into the hands of the Premier League.”

At the moment, Bristol Rovers enter at the first round stage of the FA Cup and can face League One, League Two and non-league clubs. Bristol City enter at the third round stage, and last season had a glamour tie at Ashton Gate.

Should replays be removed, it would be a decision that would be divisive. For top tier clubs, their calendars are already busy for the teams involved in European competition, but lower league cubs who earn a replay against higher league opposition, get a windfall when playing against the bigger teams.

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The closest a team from Bristol has got to winning the competition was when Bristol City reached the final in 1909, losing 1-0 to Manchester United. The Robins were semi-finalists in 1920, and since then the furthest they’ve progressed is the quarter-finals in 1974. As for Bristol Rovers, they got to the quarter-finals in 2008, having beaten Fulham and Southampton to get there.

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