Winter break: FA Cup fourth and fifth rounds could move to midweek

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Marouane Fellaini scores for Man United against West Ham
Manchester United beat West Ham in a midweek FA Cup replay last season

FA Cup replays could be scrapped and the fourth and fifth rounds moved to midweek nights to accommodate a winter break in England, says Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey.

Harvey said the move would allow more weekend games and generate income for increased solidarity payments from the Premier League to the Football League.

It will also, he says, fill a £20m gap caused by leagues from the Championship down being cut by up to four clubs.

The idea will be voted on next summer.

FA Cup semi-final replays were abandoned in 1999external-link, with sixth-round replays no longer being played from this season.

Harvey does not envisage any changes to the third round taking place.

He said: "Ultimately, to create space for a winter break, which is a stated objective of the FA, we are having to create some new dates in the calendar.

"We can potentially play two rounds of the FA Cup in midweek and it may well be that replays for four and five may have to go as part of this process."

The proposals have not been ratified by the Football League and are part of its Whole Game Solution.

A Football Association spokesperson confirmed discussions were "ongoing", adding the FA has "not agreed to FA Cup matches taking place midweek".

Where is the money coming from?

The Football League thinks a reduction in the number of clubs from 24 to 20, and adding in an extra league, would cost about £20m.

An idea to introduce Premier League B teams to the domestic pyramid, as is the case in Spain and Holland, was abandoned last week.

"The Premier League already contributes circa £120m per annum to our clubs through solidarity payments," Harvey added.

"Money is circulated that our clubs benefit from via the FA, so it's not a case of just pointing to one area of income - it's the overall approach.

"Is there a better distribution model for English football that is fair, that is equitable and gives this type of change - which is significant - an opportunity to be successful?"

Subscribe to the BBC Sport newsletter to get our pick of news, features and video sent to your inbox.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC