Scrapping FA Cup replays would ‘kill’ lower league clubs

Date published: Wednesday 17th February 2016 9:47

Exeter City: League Two side took Liverpool to a replay

Lower league clubs could be under threat if the decision is made to scrap FA Cup replays, according to Shrewsbury boss Micky Mellon.

The FA are considering abolishing replays and scheduling the tournament’s fixtures in midweek in an attempt to reduce fixture congestion.

League Cup semi-finals could also be played over just one leg, although discussion are in their infancy and any changes would likely be made when the current TV deal ends in 2018.

But Mellon, whose Shrewsbury side are preparing to host Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday, has warned against such changes.

“Scrapping cup replays would kill us. The dream of every player at this level is to go and play at grounds like Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge and prove you can function at that level,” Mellon told The Sun.

“Give us less chance of doing that and you take away a massive part of the romance of the cup. The Manchester United tie is massive for Shrewsbury Town. We’re not over-awed by it and we’ll enjoy it.

“But take away our chance of a replay and playing at those big stadiums and English football loses something massive. We could easily lose clubs, absolutely.

“Replays keep clubs afloat. I don’t know many clubs at this level making money. We wash our own face and teeter on and make sure we’re not in any debt.

“To get that extra money in will only help us improve our football club – improve players like Jamie Vardy. I want my players to have the best opportunity they have of gaining some memories and going up against some of the biggest clubs in the world.

“Last season Cambridge United cashed in to the tune of £1.5million when they earned a replay at Old Trafford.”

Shrewsbury could make as much as £2million through gate receipts and TV revenue should they manage to hold United to a draw and take them back to Old Trafford.

When asked what he would do if the score is level in the dying minutes on Monday night, Melon replied: “The old 11 formation!

“If we were to take it to the last five minutes we’d stand an even bigger chance – if we get to there I’d be delighted.

However, former England captain Alan Shearer thinks scrapping replays is a necessity.

“Everyone complains there are too many games and this would reduce fixture congestion during a very busy part of the season,” he wrote in The Sun.

“In fact, it would be more exciting for fans going into the first game knowing it is going to be finished there and then.

“The big clubs can get caught cold in the first tie, particularly away from home. But rarely do they make the same mistake twice and invariably win the replay.

“So I don’t think it would take anything away from the competition. We must start trying to free-up players from January onwards and this would help do that without detracting from the competition.”

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