FA Cup third-round replays affect Premier League winter break for seven teams

7 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp celebrated “the biggest bonus ever” with their FA Cup win over Arsenal – but seven other Premier League managers will be feeling less joyous at losing some of their winter breaks.

The next round of Premier League games are split across two weekends – 12-14 and 20-22 January – to allow every team to have a week off.

But the FA Cup third-round replays sit in between those two weekends, with seven of the 20 Premier League clubs, the most in a decade, involved.

Crystal Palace, Everton, Brentford, Wolves, Luton, Nottingham Forest and West Ham are the seven teams facing replays.

Three of those could end up playing eight times between 23 December and 30 January if they win their replays because the fourth round of the FA Cup takes place over the final weekend of the month.

With 10 minutes to go Liverpool and Arsenal looked set to make it nine teams, but Klopp’s side scored two late goals to take them through.

“It’s cool, now we have a winter break, which is the biggest bonus ever,” Klopp said.

“Arsenal wanted to go for the draw [at the end], but that was the result we desperately wanted to avoid. And now I don’t need to make any kind of decisions, which is good.”

More than a third of the league’s managers, though, will have to rip up their winter break plans and start again.

The Premier League first brought in a split winter break in 2019-20 but because of the Covid pandemic and then the Qatar World Cup, this is only the second time it has actually happened.

This season 10 teams play one weekend (12-14 January) and the other 10 play the next (20-22 January), meaning every team should have time off.

But the FA Cup third-round replays have been scheduled for the week commencing Monday, 15 January. Dates are yet to be finalised until the TV games are picked.

In total there are eight FA Cup third-round replays, up from six last season, with one tie – Wigan v Manchester United – to be played on Monday.

‘Worst outcome in every aspect’

Brentford boss Thomas Frank, whose side drew 1-1 with Wolves on Friday, was the most vocal of the managers in this predicament.

“It’s the worst outcome in every aspect,” he said. “I don’t understand why we have a replay. I know Wolves get home advantage but I’m pretty sure he [Wolves manager Gary O’Neil] would say the same – why play again? Why’s nobody in the football world changing this? They need to take some more clever decisions.”

FA Cup replays from the third round onwards could be scrapped from next season, BBC Sport understands. They were axed in 2020-21 and 2021-22 because of issues created by the coronavirus pandemic before returning.

Crystal Palace and Everton, who are both near the relegation zone, drew 0-0 on Thursday. Eagles boss Roy Hodgson called the replay “the last thing either of us wanted in a way”.

Whoever wins their replay will have five fixtures in January, which would make it their second busiest month behind December.

Burnley, on the other hand, by losing their third-round tie to Tottenham are set to have 19 days in between games.

Luton’s Premier League game with relegation rivals Burnley has been moved from Monday, 15 January to Friday, 12 January – to fit in their FA Cup replay with Bolton following their 0-0 draw.

Hatters boss Rob Edwards said: “We play Burnley now on Friday rather than Monday so our week looks different. We were prepared for it, we were ready. We hoped it wouldn’t be the case but we haven’t got through so we’ve got to do it another way.”

Luton, Forest and Everton all face the prospect of eight games in 39 days if they win their replays.

Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo, whose side came from behind to draw 2-2 with Blackpool, said: “We had a plan but now we have to change it. That’s part of the job.”

On scrapping replays, he added: “It’s something that everybody is considering because of the amount of games for everyone involved. It could be a solution.”

‘A replay is lucrative’

West Ham boss David Moyes was reportedly planning to give his players the week off, but that will now have to be changed following their 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

“We’ve got no problem with that at all,” said Moyes. “We’ve played a load of games this year and another one added to it will be fine.”

Speaking in favour of replays was Bolton chief executive Neil Hart. Hours before his League One side drew 0-0 at Luton, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I’m very in favour of them. I’d love to draw here and get Luton back up north.

“That is lucrative for us. Twenty thousand people at our stadium is a good six-figure payday for us. When you’re at the top of the Premier League, competing in multiple competitions, I get the scheduling debate. But for League One clubs and a team like Luton there’s nothing wrong with scheduling a replay. It also adds to the magic of the FA Cup.”

After the game Wanderers boss Ian Evatt said: “This club has been through the mill as everybody knows, the fans have suffered, and we’re trying very hard to build it up to what it once was.

“Extra revenue from the replay, hopefully getting a full house at our stadium, will go a long way to getting us back to where we want to be.”