Mark Robins insists his FA Cup reunion with Manchester United should not distract from his Coventry side’s own dreams of Wembley glory.

Robins was a predecessor to the fabled ‘Class of 92’ at Old Trafford, but the glory years of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville may have looked a lot different were it not for his efforts.

His match-winning goal in the third-round match against Nottingham Forest in 1990 is widely credited with keeping Sir Alex Ferguson in a job, and he was a late substitute as the Red Devils beat Crystal Palace in the final to kick off a trophy-laden golden era.

On Sunday he finds himself back at the national stadium in an FA Cup semi-final, with the fate of another United manager – the under-pressure Erik ten Hag – potentially in his hands.

Yet the 54-year-old has been happy to leave the past in the past and has not been bending his squad’s ears with tales of times gone by.

“Absolutely not. They were all born after 1990, so none of them (know about it),” he said on the eve of the game.

“I don’t speak about things like that. It doesn’t matter what I did, I just talk about them. This is totally different and management is totally different to playing.

“It’s not about me, it’s all about the players and the preparation and how they can execute against a top, top team.

“These players have got an aspiration to play in the Premier League so for me, for them, it’s a chance to see how they perform, regardless of anything else around the game.”

Robins lays no claim to the disputed version of events that paints him as the reason for sparing the most dominant manager of his generation the sack, but can still be tempted into some mild nostalgia.

“In fairness I was substitute in a cup final 34 years ago, a brilliant occasion for us as Manchester United. It was fantastic,” he said.

“There were only two substitutes in those days so to get on the bench in the first place, when there was a lot of talented individuals who didn’t make it, puts it into perspective. I’d just broken into the squad and played a part in the run up to the final.

“It’s part of my experience, it’s part of my footballing background, but it was a long, long time ago.”

One of the Sky Blues players players hoping to make some cup memories of their own is 18-goal striker Ellis Simms. A childhood Manchester City fan, Simms scored twice in the dramatic quarter-final victory over Wolves including the decisive strike in the 10th minute of added time.

He confirmed Robins has kept his own playing days firmly in the background in the build-up to a match that represents a career high for many in the Coventry squad, but believes his efforts in the dugout should be receiving greater attention.

“It was obviously a few years ago, probably before my time, but I’ve heard bits of it,” Simms said of Robins’ FA Cup success.

“He’s very humble, but we know he was a top player back in the day. Now it’s about us as players but he’s going to do everything he can to help us.

“He should get more praise than he does. Getting us this far in the competition, the majority of people didn’t think we would get this far so it’s massive credit to him.”

Pep Guardiola admitted it was “unacceptable” that Manchester City’s 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea was scheduled for less than 72 hours after their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

City recovered from their European exit on Wednesday night – when they played extra-time against Real before losing on penalties – to edge past Mauricio Pochettino’s side, thanks to a goal in the 84th minute from Bernardo Silva, but they were clearly fatigued at Wembley.

Chelsea had more than enough chances to settle the semi-final in their favour but, as was the case on their last visit here against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, wasteful finishing was their downfall, with Nicolas Jackson the primary culprit.

Yet despite seeing his side reach their third FA Cup final in six seasons, Guardiola’s thoughts were dominated by what he considered to be poor scheduling of the match by the Football Association.

“I don’t understand how we survived today,” he said. “People cannot imagine what a punch in the face to be out of the Champions League in the way we are out.

“Why not give us one more day to arrive on Sunday because Coventry and (Manchester) United didn’t play in midweek? For broadcasters?

“OK. Don’t ask me after to do extra (media duties) because we won’t do it. It’s unacceptable to play today.

“What (the players) have done today is one of the greatest things I have seen from a group of players – 120 minutes against Real, you can prepare absolutely nothing.

“Four hours to arrive here and play the game in these conditions. I don’t understand how we survived.”

Three times 22-year-old Jackson had gilt-edged chances to put his team through to the final but each time he was foiled, most glaringly when he headed straight at goalkeeper Stefan Ortega from close range midway through the second half.

Unable to capitalise on their openings, Chelsea tired as the game wore into its final 10 minutes and they were hit with the winning goal for City, six minutes from time.

Jeremy Doku slipped a pass through for Kevin De Bruyne bursting forward down the left of the penalty area and – after running it to the byline – he pulled the ball back centrally.

Djordje Petrovic got a foot to it but could not prevent it from reaching Silva, whose first-time effort at the back post pinged off Marc Cucurella as he dived in to block and span beyond the goalkeeper to win it.

City will play either Manchester United or Coventry in the final on May 25 as they look to retain the trophy they won last season.

Guardiola was pessimistic about the demands made on his players by an increasingly-congested schedule being lessened in the future and criticised what he considered an inflexible approach from competition organisers.

“In this country, they don’t change anything,” he said. “If I pretend it will change next season, it won’t happen. But don’t ask me to make meetings. I’m busy. I have to prepare games every three days.

“It’s unsustainable. We have to perform for the fans, for the prestige of the club. How? I just want to protect my players.

“I don’t have to run. I do this for the players. It is unacceptable.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino reflected on a game that, despite their chances, he felt his side had not done enough to win.

“The most important thing is to be clinical and not concede,” he said. “Even if today we competed well, I cannot say we were the better side.”

Bernardo Silva made amends for his midweek penalty miss as holders Manchester City returned to the FA Cup final with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Chelsea.

Silva badly fluffed his lines as City were agonisingly knocked out of the Champions League on penalties by Real Madrid on Wednesday but he was the match winner as they bounced back at Wembley.

The Portugal international turned home the only goal of a tight encounter six minutes from time to keep alive City’s hopes of retaining the domestic double.

Chelsea were left to rue wasting a host of chances, with Nicolas Jackson particularly culpable, on what proved a bad day for the Senegal forward in front of goal. The Londoners were also frustrated not to be awarded a penalty.

City, without the injured Erling Haaland, were not at their best – perhaps still feeling the effects of their draining encounter with Real.

With former City midfielder Cole Palmer instrumental, Chelsea made most of the running.

Palmer played in Jackson early on but his shot was too easy for Stefan Ortega.

City’s first opportunity came as Kevin De Bruyne slipped in Phil Foden with an inch-perfect pass but he went too wide attempting to go round Djordje Petrovic and Chelsea escaped.

Pep Guardiola’s side had a huge let-off when Jackson raced clear from an Enzo Fernandez long ball. Jackson only had Ortega to beat but he hesitated on the edge of the area and failed to shoot or go round the goalkeeper.

City were caught out again when Malo Gusto escaped down the right but he could not pick out Jackson in the centre. Palmer also dug out a chance for himself with some neat footwork but did not get any power on his shot.

At the other end, Marc Cucurella cleared off the line after Silva got on the end of a Jack Grealish cross but the flag was then raised.

Jackson failed to deliver again early in the second half after breaking clear in the area but shooting tamely at Ortega. The ball came back to him as Palmer whipped in a cross but his header was weak and straight at Ortega.

City had another let-off when a Palmer free-kick struck the arm of Grealish. The contact was missed by referee Michael Oliver, with Chelsea’s frustration at not getting a penalty compounded by the official awarding a goalkick.

Jackson also wanted a spot-kick after going down following a race with Kyle Walker but nothing was given.

Grealish suffered a heavy blow to the knee in a challenge from Felipe Caicedo and was withdrawn moments later. The England international voiced his frustration to the officials as he left the field, maybe suggesting Caicedo – already on a booking – should have been dealt with more severely.

Grealish’s replacement Jeremy Doku made a lively entrance and immediately tested Petrovic.

As time wore on, the game became a test of City’s resolve and the lively Doku made a notable difference.

He was involved as the deadlock was finally broken, playing in fellow Belgian De Bruyne with a clever ball. De Bruyne pulled the ball back across goal and a deflection took it into the path of Silva, who made no mistake.

It was a sweet moment for the Portuguese, who celebrated vigorously out of relief and joy.

There was no way back for Chelsea as City, befitting their champion status, held out.

Mauricio Pochettino warned his Chelsea players not to expect to come up against a vulnerable Manchester City side when the teams meet in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

City go into the game off the back of playing extra time against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night before eventually being knocked out on penalties, leaving less than 72 hours recovery time ahead of stepping out at Wembley.

Pep Guardiola has had to deal with fatigue amongst his ranks in recent weeks, with midfielder Rodri admitting to needing a rest earlier this month. He was subsequently left out of the team for last weekend’s win over Luton at the Etihad Stadium but returned to the starting XI for the defeat to Real.

They are still in contention to retain two of the three trophies they won last season, holding a two-point lead over Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League title race in addition to Saturday’s meeting with Pochettino’s side as they seek a third FA Cup triumph in six seasons.

Chelsea will return to the scene of their Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool in February, after which they were heavily criticised for failing to overcome a Reds team decimated by injury.

Jurgen Klopp’s side triumphed in extra time despite finishing the game with four highly inexperienced academy graduates aged 21 or under on the pitch.

And Pochettino insisted there will be no easy ride for his players as City lick their European wounds.

“The good example is Liverpool,” he said. “People were talking about too many injured players, how many young kids they had playing. Look what happened after.

“From our point of view, we are going to compete against Manchester City. If you ask me about their situation, I can give my opinion, but we are not talking about that. We are going to compete against them.

“Today we were preparing, doing meetings, about the Manchester City that played against Real Madrid, that played against us in the Premier League.

“We are not talking about playing one (City line-up) or playing another. For me, the strength of Manchester City is that they keep the same idea and the same philosophy.

“In the last five, six, seven years, even with different players, they play in the same way, they have the structure to dominate and to create chances and to win games and to win trophies.

“I understand the situation is tough for them after playing 120 minutes in the Champions League. Emotionally, you expend a big energy. It’s about how they recover now.

“They are going be competitive and they have an amazing staff that look after the players. They’re going to put 11 players that will play with full energy to try and win the game.”

Pochettino will have Enzo Fernandez available for selection after he missed Monday’s 6-0 demolition of Everton.

The manager said the World Cup winner’s fitness will be carefully managed following reports this week in Argentina that he requires a hernia operation.

“We are not looking for heroes,” said Pochettino.

Jack Grealish believes Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea gives Manchester City the perfect opportunity to put their Champions League agony behind them.

City’s hopes of successfully defending their European crown – and winning a second successive treble – were shattered on Wednesday as they were beaten by Real Madrid on penalties.

The defeat was particularly galling given that City had dominated the second leg of the quarter-final tie at the Etihad Stadium, but they have little time to dwell on their misfortune.

Attention has immediately shifted to Wembley and a key clash in City’s bid to retain one of the other two trophies they won in glorious fashion last season.

Midfielder Grealish said: “We’ve not been used to losing, especially in the last couple of years. We always knew it was going to be a tough game against one of the best teams in the world.

“It went down to penalties and it’s never nice to go out on penalties. Luckily enough for us we’ve got another game within three days where we can go and put it right.

“Sometimes it’s better when it’s like that. It’s better when you can put it right straight away rather than waiting and dwelling on it for a couple of weeks.

“It’s the perfect game for us to put it right.”

As well as being favourites for the FA Cup, City have put themselves in a strong position to win the Premier League for a fourth year in succession and a sixth time in seven years.

Grealish said: “This year, if we win the Premier League and the FA Cup it would be a hugely successful season. Hopefully we can go on and do that and that’s our aim.”

It has been a frustrating campaign in a personal sense for Grealish, although he has regained form and his place in the side in recent games.

The 28-year-old England international, who excelled in the treble-winning season, struggled to find consistency after an injury in the autumn and was then hindered by further fitness issues.

“It’s been difficult,” he said. “Especially on the back of last year, I had such a good season.

“At the moment, I feel good and I feel confident. At the start of the season, I don’t know, I just didn’t feel like I was playing well really. I didn’t really feel that fit if I’m honest.

“But I feel good now. I feel fit and I feel like I’m playing with good confidence. Hopefully I can bring that into the end of the season.

“We’ve still got a lot to play for. The season is nowhere near over yet. I still feel like I’ve got a big part to play.”

Grealish spoke recently about his determination to repay manager Pep Guardiola for guiding him through his difficult spell and he remains keen to deliver for the City boss.

He said: “I’ve got a really good relationship with him. I’ve said before that he’s the best manager in the world, in my opinion.

“I’ve had my own problems, even off the pitch, and he’s always spoken to me and been there for me.

“Hopefully, I can help him and he can help me towards the end of the season.”

Mauricio Pochettino believes Cole Palmer will go into Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City on Saturday with nothing to prove to his former employers, insisting he is the right manager to help the 21-year-old continue his stunning ascendancy.

Palmer, who left Chelsea’s Wembley opponents in a £42.5million deal in the summer, is joint top scorer in the Premier League after his four goals in Monday’s 6-0 demolition of Everton moved him level with City’s Erling Haaland on 20 for the season.

He has netted an incredible seven times in the team’s last two home games, including a hat-trick in the breathless 4-3 win over Manchester United when two of his goals came in the 10th and 11th minutes of stoppage time.

He previously scored from the penalty spot in the fifth minute of added time to snatch a point in a 4-4 draw when City visited west London in November.

Palmer has previously stated his decision to leave the champions – for whom he scored twice in August in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup – was based on the belief he would get more first-team game time at Chelsea.

That decision has been thoroughly vindicated, with his performances for Mauricio Pochettino’s frustratingly inconsistent side placing him in the reckoning for the PFA Player of the Year award.

His odds on winning the award have been slashed by as much as half with some bookmakers since his Everton haul.

But his manager said there was no possibility the England international would face City with an axe to grind.

“It’s his first consistent season playing, we need to be careful because he’s still young, he’s growing,” said Pochettino.

“He’s already played twice (against City) in the Premier League. He’s very grateful for Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola. He always talks very highly of them.

“He’s not the type of player that has something inside (to prove). He understood perfectly that for different reasons he wanted to prove himself in another club.

“He’s not the type of person to wants to prove something against his former club.”

Prior to joining Chelsea, Palmer had played only 19 senior league games spread over three seasons, and had not scored in the Premier League.

Yet he is now a genuine contender to deprive his former team-mate Haaland of the Golden Boot won by the Norwegian last season.

There is also the growing prospect of his being selected in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2024 in Germany this summer.

“He has to absorb the pressure to play in the Premier League consistently,” said Pochettino, who previously enjoyed success at Tottenham stewarding young talents though their early years, including England captain Harry Kane.

“It’s about the demands in his private life. He is top scorer. He maybe needs to pay attention to different things than before. That’s going to have an influence on how he is going to prepare himself, how he’s going to rest and going to sleep, how he spends his energy.

“We need to be careful. We have the experience to manage this type of thing, when a young kid becomes a big star. Why is he not performing in a few months? Because his life has changed. He needs to learn from this experience that is completely different to the past.”

The row over the abolition of FA Cup replays intensified on Friday, with the EFL accusing the Football Association and the Premier League of sidelining its clubs from the decision-making process.

Here the PA news agency looks at the situation more closely.

What has happened?

The EFL released an explosive statement on Friday afternoon saying the agreement announced between the FA and the Premier League on the new format and funding for the FA Cup was “a further example of how the EFL and its clubs are being marginalised in favour of others further up the pyramid” which “only serves to threaten the future of the English game”.

A number of EFL clubs and some from lower down the pyramid have also criticised the lack of consultation on the issue. One of them, League Two side Bradford, said that although retrospective consultation was still necessary, it would be “nothing more than an insult”.

What has the FA said?

Football’s national governing body said it “understands the concerns” expressed in the last 24 hours and said it would be “sharing more details with clubs very shortly to explain the additional revenue opportunities in the early rounds”.

It added that the EFL had been involved in discussions about replays for over a year and that “all parties accepted they could not continue”. The FA also pointed out that the calendar changes were approved by its Professional Game Board (PGB) which includes four EFL representatives.

So the EFL backed the changes?

The EFL insists the abolition of replays from the FA Cup was “agreed solely between the FA and the Premier League”. It said its PGB representatives did challenge the position on replays and were told that clubs would be “comfortable” without them. The EFL added: “Any decisions taken on the calendar involving EFL representatives are in no way an endorsement of the joint deal agreed between the FA and Premier League that imposes changes to the FA Cup competition format in isolation.”

The FA, EFL and Premier League were in discussions over the so-called “New Deal For Football” to agree new financial settlements and changes to the domestic calendar in response to fixture pressures caused by UEFA expanding its club competitions from 2024-25. However, the EFL statement says the discussions over the FA Cup were “bilateral” between the FA and the Premier League.

The EFL insists it must be involved in all discussions on changes to the calendar affecting its clubs and crucially, how any such changes are compensated for. But sources close to the EFL feel that now Premier League clubs have opted to halt talks on a new settlement with the 72 clubs, the EFL is being sidelined.

What happens now?

The FA says it will try to convince lower-league clubs they will not “lose out” as a result of the changes. The EFL says the FA and the Premier League must “re-evaluate their approach” to dealing with it and its 72 clubs.

York owner Matt Uggla has said he will contact all those clubs who have spoken out in opposition to the changes to “discuss our options” regarding the FA Cup.

“We might be called small clubs but together we are giants,” he wrote on X.

He described boycotting the FA Cup as “the nuclear option”.

Erling Haaland is a doubt for Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Saturday.

The Norwegian striker was surprisingly substituted prior to extra time of the Champions League quarter-final loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Manager Pep Guardiola revealed after the game the 23-year-old asked to be withdrawn but did not give a reason why.

Speaking on Friday, Guardiola confirmed the forward had suffered an injury but still gave little indication as to how serious.

Guardiola said at a press conference: “We will see. It was a tough game, a lot of action, high intensity for both sides.

“Erling felt something, a muscular issue. That’s why he told me he could not continue.

“The (doctor) said he had a little bit of niggles, a little problem, we will see how his evolution is in the next hours.”

In a more positive update, Guardiola confirmed playmaker Kevin De Bruyne “feels well” having been taken off during extra time against Real for nothing more serious than exhaustion.

Guardiola feels, given the schedule, it is understandable that players would be tired at this stage of the season.

He said: “It’s normal with the amount of games we are playing this season and the previous seasons and not much recovery, and extra time and high intensity.

“We put a lot of pressure in our game and that’s why the fatigue is there. They are human beings. They are not a machine. We are used to it.”

The agonising penalty shoot-out defeat by Real ended City’s hopes of winning the treble for a second season in succession.

Yet they remain on course to repeat the domestic double and Guardiola is determined to bounce back from the midweek heartache.

He said: “We don’t have another option. I don’t want us to feel sorry for ourselves.

“In football, you lose games. We performed at our best and we were not able to win. You have to accept it.

“We did everything. We know it, they know it, all the world know it, but it was not enough. When it’s not enough, it’s bad night.

“So congratulations (to Real) and, tomorrow, FA Cup.”

The decision to scrap FA Cup replays is further evidence of the EFL and its clubs being “marginalised”, the league has said.

The Football Association announced on Thursday it had reached an agreement with the Premier League on the future format and funding of the competition, which would include all replays from the first round being abolished.

A number of EFL clubs have criticised the changes and insisted they were not consulted, with the FA releasing a statement on Friday saying it understood those concerns and would share details with them about how any shortfall in lost replay revenue may be made up.

However, the EFL said this was just the most recent example of how the league and its clubs were being sidelined, with the Premier League clubs having also decided to halt discussions over a new financial settlement with the EFL.

“This latest agreement between the Premier League and the FA, in the absence of financial reform, is just a further example of how the EFL and its clubs are being marginalised in favour of others further up the pyramid and that only serves to threaten the future of the English game,” the EFL’s statement on Friday afternoon said.

“The EFL today calls on both the Premier League and the FA, as the governing body, to re-evaluate their approach to their footballing partnership with the EFL and engage more collaboratively on issues directly affecting our clubs.”

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag confirmed Alejandro Garnacho has apologised for liking social media posts criticising his handling of the player and insisted the incident does not show the squad is fractured.

The Argentina winger, who was taken off at half-time of last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, liked two messages on X, formerly Twitter, which were negative about Ten Hag.

He quickly unliked both posts and has now apologised, leaving no issues around his involvement for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Coventry at Wembley.

Asked whether it suggested the group was not together, Ten Hag replied: “I wouldn’t point to that.

“Alejandro is a young player, has to learn a lot. He apologised for it and after that we move on.”

Experienced midfielder Casemiro has received criticism for his recent performances, with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp suggesting his display against Bournemouth last week was like he was playing in Soccer Aid.

But Ten Hag has backed the Brazilian and insisted he will bring United success.

“I think we needed the six when I arrived here and last season Casemiro was fantastic,” he said.

“I don’t think he ever scored so many goals as well but as a six, a holding midfielder, as a strategist, he was so important for the team.

“This season he struggled with a bad injury he never had in his career, but he is such a winner. See his career, always in his career he has won, everywhere he was there will be success.

“I trust he will give us success and I know he will need games and he will be better and I’m very confident about him.

“He is a fighter, why he also won big trophies, he’s a personality and he’s a very important player and he will give us success.”

Another player who criticised the club on social media was Jadon Sancho and the winger has since found his form on loan at Borussia Dortmund, who made it through to the Champions League semi-finals this week.

Ten Hag said nothing has changed surrounding his future because of his performances in Germany.

“We know Jadon Sancho is a fantastic football player, so that is not a surprise for us, that is not the issue,” he said.

“Of course, I follow international football and follow the players on loan at other clubs.

“It was a fantastic game, Dortmund against Atletico Madrid, great performance from Dortmund and for Jadon it’s good news. He made his contribution to the result for Dortmund.”

Ten Hag hopes to be able to have Scott McTominay and Antony back in the squad against Championship outfit Coventry on Sunday.

“Antony and Scott I expect them to be back,” he said. “Scott didn’t train all week, partial on Wednesday, today I expect him full. Antony did train all week.

“We have some problems. Harry (Maguire) had a small injury, he didn’t train this week so far but now he is back on the pitch. We expect him to be back for Sunday, I hope.”

Coventry boss Mark Robins has scoffed at the “derisory” criticism of Manchester United, insisting his side’s FA Cup semi-final opponents remain the biggest football club on the planet.

Robins began his career at Old Trafford and his history with the club is firmly intertwined with the cup, with his third round winner against Nottingham Forest in 1990 often cited as the goal that saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the sack.

Ferguson’s latest successor in the hot seat, Erik ten Hag, could do with firming up his own position and could find himself on extremely rocky ground if the Red Devils were denied a shot at silverware by Championship opposition.

They are winless in four games since reaching the last four with a penalty shootout victory over Liverpool and sit seventh in the Premier League table, but Robins believes their problems have been overstated.

“People, pundits, are talking in a derisory way about Manchester United and what they’re doing, how they’re performing,” he said.

“For people who are talking about Manchester United are this or that, or they concede lots of shots: you’re talking about a team that is full of talented players, top international players. We know they are clearly favourites to win this game, by a million miles, simple as that.

“They can hurt anybody on their day. The game against Liverpool their goals were outstanding. So you’ve got a lot of things to consider, especially as a Championship club going up against the biggest club in the world.

“For Manchester United, this is a normal occasion. They play at Wembley a lot of times, there’s some England internationals there and other internationals who’ve played at Wembley on numerous occasions. It’s an expectation for them and their supporters; for us it’s slightly different.”

The Sky Blues booked their place in the last four with a dramatic 3-2 win over Wolves, with stoppage-time strikes from Ellis Simms and Haji Wright completing a remarkable upset.

The euphoria of that result has not carried in to their league form though, with three losses in their last four games leaving their play-off hopes – and regular games against the likes of United – all but over.

With that in mind, Robins has urged everyone connected to the club to make the most of the experience in front of them.

“We’ve already given the fans a special occasion getting there. Being in the national stadium with Manchester United, it doesn’t get much bigger than that,” he said.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for everyone and there’s a lot of excitement around the city. There is a global reach there for Coventry City, the world will be tuning in and it’s a great occasion for all of our players.”

One player who will not be part of City’s big day is Kasey Palmer, suspended after picking up a booking for encroaching on the pitch to celebrate the late triumph over Wolves.

“In the moment it’s the reaction we all made, you don’t necessarily think too much about it,” Said Robins.

“It was really poor but the rules are the rules and you’ve got to abide by them. Unfortunately for him and for us, we can’t use him.”

The Football Association insists it “understands the concerns” of EFL clubs over the scrapping of FA Cup replays and will be sharing details with them on how new revenue will be generated.

The FA announced on Thursday that replays would be abolished from the first round onwards, sparking criticism from the EFL and its clubs over a lack of consultation.

However, football’s national governing body has moved to allay some of the fears clubs have expressed over the move.

“We understand the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and we will be sharing more details with clubs very shortly to explain the additional revenue opportunities in the early rounds,” the FA statement said.

“We will keep this under review as the new calendar begins to ensure that EFL and National League clubs do not lose out.”

The scrapping of replays has been driven to a large extent by a need to reduce calendar congestion, with UEFA’s expanded club competitions beginning next season.

FA Cup replays are being scrapped next season, ending 150 years of tradition and sparking calls for EFL clubs to be compensated for lost revenue.

The Football Association announced the format change on Thursday morning as it confirmed a new agreement with the Premier League which will increase funding to the grassroots game by up to an extra £33million per season.

The FA’s chief executive Mark Bullingham said the new format – which includes fifth-round ties reverting to weekends after five seasons in midweek, and the final being played on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season – would strengthen the FA Cup.

Changes to the domestic calendar were inevitable given the expansion of the Champions League from next season, and although replays’ days have appeared numbered for some time, a Football Supporters’ Association poll last summer found 69.5 per cent of fans still saw them as an important part of the FA Cup.

The FSA has relayed the “serious concerns” of fans about the loss of replays to the FA, while the EFL expressed frustration and disappointment over how it has felt sidelined on the detail around such a pivotal calendar decision affecting its clubs, particularly since talks over its own financial settlement with the Premier League stalled earlier this year.

The EFL will now seek to discuss the mechanisms within the new agreement to ensure its clubs do not lose out financially from the loss of replays.

The FA’s statement said the Professional Game Board – which includes four EFL representatives including its chairman Rick Parry – had approved the overall calendar for next season containing the changes.

Sources close to the EFL insist that although there was broad agreement on the calendar at the Professional Game Board level, the EFL had not been privy to discussions around the mechanisms to ensure the changes did not cause its clubs financial detriment.

The sources also insisted it was not true that the EFL’s own board had approved the changes, only that it had been appraised of what was discussed at the Professional Game Board. The timing and content of Thursday’s announcement is understood to have taken the EFL and its clubs by surprise.

The FSA, which has held regular meetings with the FA over the cup’s format, said: “It’s clear today’s announcement about the FA Cup has not gone down well with a lot of fans up and down the country.

“Supporters are concerned that the changes to the FA Cup will further diminish what makes the competition enduringly popular – namely its history, heritage and tradition.

“While we recognise the footballing calendar is coming under impossible strain – due to the increasing bloat of FIFA and UEFA competitions – recent surveys of both our members and National Council revealed serious concerns about loss of replays and the impact that could have on the magic of the competition.

“The FA Cup is the oldest domestic cup competition in the world, an asset of national importance, and we have shared those concerns with the FA as its primary custodians.”

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “Whilst the league had previously been involved in discussions over the future of the calendar, these were predicated on the agreement of a new financial deal with the Premier League for EFL clubs which has not progressed.

“This is frustrating and disappointing given the calendar is a shared asset across football and as we have consistently said a whole game approach is required to find solutions to complex fixture scheduling challenges.

“Our domestic calendar has been put under extreme pressure by the expansion of UEFA competitions and ultimately this represents another lost traditional revenue stream for EFL clubs at a time when the financial gap between the biggest clubs and those further down the pyramid is growing bigger than ever.

“We will now be discussing the implications for EFL clubs and seeking appropriate compensation arrangements.”

The EFL announced on January 24 that it would not make any changes to the format of next season’s Carabao Cup until a new financial deal had been agreed. That leaves open the strong possibility of clashes between that competition and UEFA dates next season.

FA sources have challenged the notion that replays are major revenue earners for lower-league clubs.

Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side was away to a Premier League team, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000. Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

While the FA Cup final will not be the last domestic fixture of the season, as was the case for many years, there will not be Premier League matches scheduled on the same day.

The late May Bank Holiday weekend has been ringfenced for the EFL play-offs.

The mid-season break has also been scrapped in order to allow the 2024-25 Premier League season to start in mid-August. It is hoped the longer break will ensure top-flight clubs are able to give their players a consecutive three-week rest.

The EFL will seek compensation for its clubs over the “frustrating and disappointing” decision to scrap all FA Cup replays from next season.

League sources say it was sidelined from the decision, which was announced by the Football Association on Thursday.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “Whilst the league had previously been involved in discussions over the future of the calendar, these were predicated on the agreement of a new financial deal with the Premier League for EFL clubs which has not progressed.

“This is frustrating and disappointing given the calendar is a shared asset across football, and as we have consistently said a whole game approach is required to find solutions to complex fixture scheduling challenges.

“Our domestic calendar has been put under extreme pressure by the expansion of UEFA competitions and ultimately this represents another lost traditional revenue stream for EFL clubs at a time when the financial gap between the biggest clubs and those further down the pyramid is growing bigger than ever.

“We will now be discussing the implications for EFL clubs and seeking appropriate compensation arrangements.”

A lower-league club boss has called for protests over the decision to scrap all FA Cup replays and warned the Premier League will “strangle” the pyramid without a strong independent regulator.

Replays have been abolished from the first round onwards from next season as part of a minimum six-year agreement between the Football Association and the Premier League.

The matches have long been a part of FA Cup tradition – with the first replayed final taking place in 1875 – and have in some cases been highly lucrative for lower-league clubs.

It has long been expected that the expansion of UEFA club competitions would lead to their abolition at least from the third-round stage, but Tranmere vice-chair Nicola Palios fears this move could be the thin end of the wedge.

“The FA and the Premier League have reached an agreement to suit themselves further at the expense of the rest of the football pyramid,” Palios posted on X.

“Bring on the regulator and make sure it has some teeth before the Premier League strangle the pyramid.

“Seven hundred and twenty-nine teams compete in the FA Cup. Why is its format being dictated by the Premier League who represent circa three per cent of them? Why were EFL clubs not given a say? Why is the EPL even dictating whether replays are allowed in rounds they don’t participate in? Protest is needed!”

Next season’s domestic calendar – including the changes to the FA Cup – have been approved by the FA’s Professional Game Board, which includes EFL representation.

The EFL has not yet commented on the matter.

The agreement also includes fifth-round ties reverting to a weekend slot, having been played in midweek for the last five seasons. The FA Cup final will also now be played on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham insists the move, which will mean up to an extra £33million for the pyramid, strengthens the FA Cup.

Andy Holt, the chairman of Accrington, wrote on X: “Why would the hapless FA scrap early-round replays that can be lucrative to minnows? A chance to change their financial fortunes? Against EFL clubs? I expect nothing less of Masters and co Premier League buying the game into a format that suits their needs.”

Niall Couper, the chief executive of the Fair Game football reform group, described the move as “short-sighted” and as “another nail in the coffin for the already crumbling football pyramid”.

FA sources have challenged the notion that replays are major revenue earners for lower-league clubs. Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side was away, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000. Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

Nevertheless they remained popular among fans, with 69.5 per cent of those taking part in a Football Supporters’ Association survey last summer believing they are an important part of the FA Cup. The FSA, which had been involved in talks with the FA over the FA Cup’s format, has not yet commented.

Freeing up first and second-round replay dates would help to create room for any expansion of the EFL Trophy, which has been under discussion between the Premier League and the EFL. The former is keen to give top-flight clubs’ young stars more opportunities to play in competitive matches.

However, with talks over a new financial settlement between the EFL and the Premier League stalled, it is unclear when – or even if – such an expansion would take place.

The Professional Footballers’ Association said the move highlighted the knock-on impact to domestic football of changes agreed at the international level.

“What football needs is a collective approach to a properly thought-out global fixture calendar – not a fight for available dates,” PFA chief executive Maheta Molango said.

“(The agreement) shows how decisions that are made at an international level have a knock-on impact which affects clubs, and players, throughout the pyramid.

“The current unsustainable approach to the calendar needs to be seen as an issue for every club at every level if we want to continue to protect our domestic competitions.”

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