Saturday, May 25, 2024

Arteta welcomes decision to scrap FA Cup replays

Mikel Arteta has welcomed the decision to scrap FA Cup replays from the first round onwards claiming the number of games his players face is “not healthy”.

After announcing the news yesterday, the Football Association defended the decision claiming “all parties” had agreed the step is necessary. EFL clubs have since responded angrily claiming they’ve been marginalised and stand to lose out on vital broadcast funds and gate receipts.

While Arteta is sympathetic to their concerns, he insists player welfare is a key consideration and that minimising FA Cup minutes should be part of a wider conversation about a bloated calendar.

Facing the press ahead of Saturday’s trip to Wolves, Arteta said: “We cannot only look at that in an isolated way but with the calendar that we have in the next few seasons, obviously we have to think with the amount for the players it’s a very good possibility.

“I understand every point of view,” he added. “Mine is to protect our players and the amount of minutes and games they’ve played in the last two season is not great.

“If they have to play that much in the next two years it’s not healthy for sure, so somewhere we have to reduce the calendar.”

It’s expected that half of Arsenal’s squad will be involved in international football during the summer before joining up for money-spinning pre-season friendlies in the United States. Assuming we finish in the top four, the Gunners also face the prospect of more European football before Christmas with a new format of the Champions League introducing two more group stage games.

While Arteta thinks bigger squads might be one way around the problem, he knows that brings it’s own issues; both financially and from a play harmony perspective.

“Obviously the calendar continues to be more and more demanding, more games, more competition, less rest, so we have two options, we refuse that or we have more players in the squad and to be able to do that as well your financial capacity has to be much better because what you cannot drop is the level.

“We have a level that is unbelievable in the Premier League and the teams that are competing and this cannot be dropped, we have to find a solution for that and the players have to be listened to much more because they are the protagonists.”

Having looked like a side who has run out of steam in the last two matches, player fatigue is front of mind for a lot of supporters. You get the feeling with a lot more football to come in the next few weeks that Arteta doesn’t want to beat that drum too much. He needs his players on the front foot for matches against Wolves, Chelsea and Sp*rs in the next eight days.

At the same time, looking ahead, he does think the Premier League could make life easier for its clubs when they play in Europe.

“I don’t know [if fatigue was a factor on Wednesday], when you look at the schedule that Bayern had and we had, and the amount of games that they play, and they rest ten players nine days ago, and then rest three days before the game, another nine players, this is different.

“But in these leagues, they do what they do, which is they cancel the games, or they bring them forward to have more rest for the Champions League. And we are not doing that, and we’re putting even more and more pressure on ourselves. This is what we have, it’s not an excuse, it’s a reality.

He added: “I think you want to compete in the same condition. I think we should be able to have at least the same amount of recovery between games. That’s at least something that we can do.”

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This is not great for the smaller clubs who rely on big paydays that often come with replays. Arsenal are part of a football pyramid and it is important that the base of the structure remains strong. Football in this country will suffer if the lower leagues aren’t sustainable. If the number of games is really such an issue then cut out the preseason tours overseas.


The preseasons are an important part of warming up to the season and testing out lineups etc., they’re much more like practice than an actual high intensity game like these cup games, and each player usually plays 1 half at most, and most importantly they don’t crowd your schedule within the season by eliminating one of the half dozen times the players get a much needed full week’s break. Why not make replays voluntary? So that each club can declare ahead of the season whether they’d like replays or not, and if two clubs draw each other that have declared… Read more »


Which brings me to the question I’ve always had. Do these smaller clubs sometimes intentionally play for a draw and a chance at a replay? I remember one club chairman back in the day make a statement that by any chance if they were leading Manchester united with injury time to go he would ask coach to let them score so they could take it to old Trafford for a big pay day. I liked the game Farnborough were allowed to “host” us at highbury for financial advantages and six or 5 goals we put past them couldn’t beat the… Read more »


Doubtful. The prize money alone for progressing to the next round is a large sum to any team in League one or below. They also have the chance of drawing another big team in the next round, so it would not make sense to throw a game. If a club has a very small stadium as you described then it is understandable to want to play it somewhere with more capacity, but ultimately everyone wants to win and savour the moment of a big upset.


Thanks for the information. That aside when I read elsewhere where it’s put that scrapping the playoffs cripples those teams financially because it’s an opportunity to make some massive profits it still leaves it open. Like we know having players fit for the league and champions league gives you way more than pre season tour friendlies and less fatigue but nobody will go spend July in the highlands of Austria anymore kind of thing.

Grecian Gunner

A typical response from one of the greedy Premier League teams. If fatigue is really an issue how about cutting down on the money spinning foreign jaunts and giving the players some proper rest. FA Cup replays can be the life blood of many lower division teams, just look at how Exeter City were saved from oblivion by their draw with Man. Utd back in 2004/05?

djourou's nutmeg

that’s just small clubs leeching from bigger clubs and then complaining about them being selfish. the revenue they’d earn in those replay matches does not come from their own popularity, they’re just taking advantage of somebody else. which by itself isn’t something bad, but when it comes at the expense of player’s health and maintaining the standards of competition, it’s not fair. they’re complaining about not receiving something they’ve done nothing to deserve. that being said, there are many other measures that could’ve had place with that in mind, so it does seem a little bit strange to deny those… Read more »


This is just indicative of the selfishness and greed of the big Premier League clubs.

The FA Cup is a great source of income for the lower-league clubs. Replays were a nice way of generating a big pay day.

A sad day for football.


Well Fats, it hasn’t been about what is best for football or football fans for decades. It is about what is best for the oil tycoons and texan cowboy billionaires profiles and bank accounts that have broken this morally corrupted sport.


True, but we all love our 100 million pound signing! 😉


And why do 100M quid signings exist?


Because one club places that price tag on a player, and another club agrees to pay it?


*Because one BILLIONAIRE places that price tag on a player, and another BILLIONAIRE agrees to pay it (and a whole lot more to a bunch of society’s parasites scavenging of the carcass of the game)?*



Seems a tad naive to lay the blame on a handful of individuals — we’re all completely complicit in the game, man (said as Omar would from The Wire).


Seems a tad naive not to really, and I’m not just talking footy…


I’m with you mate, but it’s not just the fault of those billionaires but the whole capitalist system and values that lead to that phenomenon we call billionaires and how they use their wealth and power to influence things, and how we normal people mostly accept that.

In the end those inflated transfer prices are mainly the result of financial doping by oligarchs and petrostates, not billionaire owners such as ours who for years were trying to keep things “sane” in the face of this insanity. But unfortunately to have any hope of competing we had to follow suit…


You had me until you’re defending the Kroenkes. They’re specialists in exploitation; the system allows it because they control the system by corrupting politicians and controlling media content through advertisement/sponsorship, and then sprinkle a few millions here and there on goodwill projects to win over the pubic with their kind hearts (yet at the same time they produce with sweat shop labor, repress collective bargaining, destroy and pollute the environment, cheat the financial system and forever lobby against and push down corporate tax and highest income tax – that’s theft from the public. Kroenkes are masters of it


Because Chelsea.

Grecian Gunner

Only hope this goes the way of the Super League.


Fans will have to take matters into their own hands, as they did with the Super League, for anything to change. Remarkable how quickly that was put to bed by supporters uniting for the game and not simply for shirt or stripe.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Will this change our position of best FA Cup winners in the future? Are replays favorable to us? Is this bad for fringe players who will get less minutes?


Not relevant, no, and probably


To be honest, we have all watched Arsenal in FA cup games and said, “the worst result would be a draw with the fixture schedule we’ve got.” Watching Arsenal run out of legs yet again in April (even without an FA cup run this season) I am definitely up for fewer games, not more. Can we abolish in-season international friendly matches while we are at it?

Eric Blair

Absolutely. Change the League Cup semi to a one-off as well.

David C

I’m an Arsenal fan so I don’t really care about the lower league teams.

Does that make me a bad person?

My dad was telling me back in the day they would replay again and again if the teams in the FA Cup kept drawing the game. Madness! Google says Alvechurch and Oxford City (1971-1972) played 6 replays! Wow.

I would also say stop playing so many preseason games, get rid of the silly two-legged Carabao cup semi-finals, and kill a round or two of the really boring international friendly weekends.

Spanish Gooner

Beyond scrapping the replays, I really hate the move to put the FA Cup final mid-season. I remember going to the game directly after Wigan won the cup, the greatest day in their history, and we relegated them the next game, meaning highest moment of the club’s 100 year history lasted less than 7 days. It’s not right.


We only ever get picked out of the hat against prem teams anyway, usually away, can’t remember the last lower league team we drew


It was Oxford, two years ago I think.

A Different George

Just on the issue of Bayern’s fixtures and ours. First, their season is four games shorter because the league is smaller; if you want real howls that will make the replay question seem tame, just try proposing an 18 team Premier League. Second, it’s pretty easy to rotate your squad when the only issue is whether you finish 2d or 3d; it’s an advantage Bayern had that we don’t want. Third, it’s especially easy to rotate when the overwhelming financial disparity of your league allows you to have a squad much deeper than your opponents. But I do wish the… Read more »


Possibility to help players health long term after they retire so they can enjoy using their bodies in an expected way at age 40+ would be to have larger squads, with more shared minutes a requirement, and lower wages. How about 10 outfield subs per game mandatory, and some kind of cap of minutes per player per season. This way the load is shared and can have lots of games to keep fans and media happy. I think the current setup is not healthy for players. Overpaid, overused, and unsustainable for the regular starters. I get top players are hungry… Read more »


There are plenty of sports with equally / more demanding physical schedules.

Baseball – 162 games a season
Basketball and Hockey – 82 games a season
Cricketers can play 120 days in a year

Etc etc – looking at the pundits on tv they seem to be doing just fine physically.


Basketball is a (very dull) non-contact sport where you run slower and can therefore play on consecutive days. Cricket you spend half the match sitting down drinking tea, waiting to get on the pitch. Completely different.

SLC Gooner

Lol. Are you really comparing cricket or baseball to football? Rice runs more in a match than most baseball players do in the entire season. Never mind the contact. Hockey and basketball are more comparable, but hockey players rotate regularly during matches.


Why are there “more and more” games? Because UEFA has 642 clubs playing qualifying rounds for yet another European Conference Sunday League div 3 or something, while FIFA has a 77-team world club championship in July and wants a world cup every year.

One fucking replay a season is not the problem.


There’s a really simple solution here, always play the games at the stadium of the team that is in the lower league with revenues going to them. German FA cup does it that way

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