FA Cup replays could be scrapped in order to trim fixture list

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Scrapping FA Cup replays and playing midweek rounds are among a range of measures being considered to trim the fixture list in English football.

With two domestic cups added to an intense Premier League, top-flight clubs fear a congested calendar damages their chances in European competitions.

The Football Association also has concerns the season leaves the national team tired for summer tournaments.

Other talks reportedly feature reducing League Cup semi-finals to one leg.

Discussions are at an early stage and any changes to the FA Cup would only come into force once the existing TV broadcast deal ends in 2018.

The Football League would need to sanction any changes to the League Cup.

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A move to scrap FA Cup replays could mean a financial hit for lower-league clubs, whose chances of earning big pay days at top-flight stadiums would be reduced.

But it is understood the FA is keen to maintain the integrity of the competition and ensure funds are distributed throughout the football pyramid. More than £13m in prize money and broadcast fees has been paid out to clubs this season.

"Replays keep clubs afloat. I don't know many clubs at this level making money," said Shrewsbury manager Micky Mellon, whose League One team host Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday.

"Without them, we could lose clubs. But to get that extra money in will only help us improve our football club."

Replays not only provide smaller clubs with a financial boost, but also a greater chance of success. For example, a lower-league club drawn away to more illustrious opposition are likely to have more chance of progressing if they can force a replay on their own ground.

"That's the dream for anybody at this level, to go and play and prove you can function at those levels," added Mellon.

"If you give us less of a chance of doing that it takes a massive part of the romance out of the cup."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has voiced his concerns about the number of domestic fixtures facing his team, in addition to their Europa League exertions.

The former Borussia Dortmund manager joked he had to correct German friends who congratulated him for reaching a final after his team beat Stoke in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.

The Reds have also faced replays in the FA Cup third and fourth rounds.

Klopp also said recently that "too many games" were harming the England team, and suggested other European countries benefited from a winter break.

England have not reached the semi-finals at any of their past eight major tournaments, and were knocked out at the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Manchester City, meanwhile, are "furious" their Champions League prospects have been harmed by having to face Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday, three days before they face Dynamo Kiev.

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