James Tilley scored twice as AFC Wimbledon breezed to an emphatic 5-1 win over Cheltenham.

The Dons were without a win in five Sky Bet League Two games, but they made light work of the League One strugglers.

Ali Al Hamadi opened the scoring with a fine finish into the bottom left corner in the 23rd minute having latched on to Omar Bugiel’s pass.

Tilley netted his first during first-half stoppage time, touching past the advancing Luke Southwood after Connor Lemonheigh-Evans’ ball.

Armani Little crashed a shot against the crossbar two minutes into the second half as Wimbledon took total control.

Tilley volleyed in the third from the edge of the box after 61 minutes before Josh Davison beat Southwood with a deflected effort to make it 4-0 four minutes later.

Lemonheigh-Evans curled in the pick of the Dons’ goals from 20 yards in the 70th minute.

Rob Street scored a consolation for Cheltenham in the 76th minute, following up after Nathan Butler-Oyedeji’s effort was blocked.

Cheltenham won a penalty but Aidan Keena’s strike hit the post in the 85th minute to compound a miserable afternoon for the visitors.

Wigan progressed through to the second round of the FA Cup with a second 2-0 victory at Exeter in a fortnight.

It was a case of deja vu following Latics’ 2-0 win in the league, with Exeter on top for virtually the entire 90 minutes, but lacking any penetration in the final third and Wigan scoring twice on the counter-attack.

Exeter made a bright start to the game, with Vincent Harper seeing a shot deflect wide and Alex Hartridge heading wide from a Harry Kite cross.

Wigan’s first attempt came in the 26th minute when Scott Smith let fly from distance, but Vili Sinisalo made a superb fingertip save to divert the ball over the bar.

James Scott fired Exeter’s best chance over the bar after a great pull back from Yanic Wildschut, while Ryan Trevitt scuffed a shot into the arms of Sam Tickle, but it was Wigan that went in front after 58 minutes when Jordan Jones saw a shot saved by Sinisalo and Thelo Aasgaard slammed in the rebound.

Wigan were happy to let Exeter have the ball and they completed the win in the 87th minute when Steven Sessegnon curled a stunning shot into the top corner from 25 yards for his first goal for the club.

Billy Bodin scored twice to send League One high-flyers Oxford through to the second round of the FA Cup but National League opponents Maidenhead made life difficult for them at the Kassam Stadium.

Bodin fired the U’s in front in the 15th minute with a fine first-time finish from Stan Mills’ right-wing cross.

And he sealed their progress by firing past goalkeeper Craig Ross at the second attempt from Cameron Brannagan’s pass seven minutes from time.

The Magpies responsed well to going behind early on and had several opportunities to level.

Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood saved from Jayden Mitchell-Lawson and Kane Ferdinand, while Mitchell-Lawson and Reece Smith fired efforts wide.

Alan Devonshire’s men had the U’s defending desperately at times, before the third-tier outfit finished strongly.

Substitute Josh Murphy saw an effort deflect wide and Bodin had a header saved before he made the game safe with his second goal of the match and fourth of the season.

Barrow boss Pete Wild was thrilled with his side’s performance after they upset the odds to beat League One Northampton in the first round of the FA Cup.

Mitch Pinnock cancelled out Emile Acquah’s early opener but second-half goals from Tom White and Ben Whitfield secured a 3-1 victory as the Bluebirds secured their place in the draw for the second round.

“I’m really pleased with everyone,” said Wild. “It was a real graft and I thought we looked a bit tired after the game on Tuesday, which is why I made the changes at half-time.

“That gave us a bit more life and energy and it was a really good performance and a really solid performance.

“Yes, the second and third goals were fortunate but that comes from putting teams under pressure and making them do more and I’ve just said that to the players in the dressing room.

“We played winning football once we were 2-1 and 3-1 ahead and that’s when we were at our best. We pressed, we drove with the ball, we defended properly and we didn’t mess about in dangerous areas.

“Northampton are in a rut at the moment but they’ll come out of that rut because they have some top players and we all go through periods during the season when things don’t go our way.

“Northampton had an outstanding season last year and they beat us up home and way so to come and get a result, I’m really pleased.”

Northampton have now lost their last four FA Cup first round ties and are six without a win in all competitions.

Manager Jon Brady said: “We just didn’t defend our box properly at the start of the game and that allows them an easy goal and an easy start.

“We work our way back into the game, we create one or two good chances and then we get the goal and going into half-time I feel we’re in the ascendency.

“Will (Hondermarck) misses that one on the line just before half-time and then we start the second half well but their second goal takes the wind out of us and that shouldn’t happen.

“It’s not happened to our teams before and we gift them the third goal. We’re just giving away too many easy goals at the moment.

“It might have been a different story if we take those chances and we should have been at least 2-1 up, I don’t know how Will’s not scored, but it’s too easy for teams to score against us.

“The way we’re starting games is killing us and we’re giving ourselves a mountain to climb.”

Barrow upset League One Northampton in the first round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory at Sixfields.

Emile Acquah’s early header was cancelled out by Mitch Pinnock but second-half goals from Tom White and Ben Whitfield secured Barrow’s place in the draw for the second round.

The League Two outfit made the better start and led after only nine minutes when Acquah headed in Elliot Newby’s corner.

Will Hondermarck curled wide and Sam Hoskins had a shot blocked before Northampton levelled a minute shy of the half-hour mark as Hoskins charged down Niall Canavan’s clearance and the ball rebounded kindly for Pinnock to slot home.

Barrow’s Dom Telford smashed just wide from 20 yards before Hoskins missed a good chance at the start of the second half, poking wide when through on goal.

That proved a big moment in the game as Barrow regained the lead moments later through White’s long-range shot, which took a wicked deflection and wrong-footed Max Thompson.

Victory was secured 18 minutes from time after a mix-up between Thompson and Ali Koiki allowed Whitfield to score into an empty net.

Sheppey United boss Ernie Batten was proud of his side despite their 4-1 FA Cup first-round exit at the hands of League Two Walsall.

The eighth-tier side were the lowest-ranked club in the first-round proper of the longest-running cup competition in the world.

Batten’s Ites were competing in the first round for the first time in their history.

And hopes of a huge cup upset were high after James Bessey-Saldanha’s stunning first-half strike at a capacity-packed Holm Park.

Douglas James-Taylor levelled in the first-half before Tony Knowles, Ross Tierney and Isaac Hutchinson did the damage in the second period.

After reaching this stage for the first time in 105 attempts, Batten said: “I’m extremely proud of this group of players.

“I’ve lived on the island most of my life and it’s been a wonderful moment for myself.

“They’ve achieved something this club hasn’t done in its 130-year existence.

“I couldn’t be happier for them. I’ve said to them that they’ve got to use this for the rest of the season.

“We’ve got all to play for in the league and it puts you in a good mood.

“I’m really pleased for James because he found a really good goal for us to give us a great start.

“I think this experience is massive for us, absolutely massive. We’re so pleased to get this far and hopefully it’s a catalyst for the football club.

“The exposure we’ve had has really highlighted us as a football club that’s going places.”

Tree surgeon goalkeeper Aiden Prall, the penalty hero against Billericay, produced a player-of-the-match performance with 12 saves – just hours after cutting logs.

But a dream second-round berth was just a step too far for the Isthmian League South East outfit.

Walsall boss Mat Sadler was full of plaudits for the non-league side after their big night out in front of the TV cameras.

“It was a really professional performance,” admitted Sadler.

“We knew it was going to be a tough night, everyone was charged up for the game and rightly so because they’ve done so well to get this far.

“Credit to them to get to the first round. When they scored you think ‘Jesus Christ’.

“It was a really good performance for us. I’m delighted in a way that they got their goal and can go away happy because they deserve it.

“Fair play to them because it was a great goal, I thought it was brilliant.

“I was desperate to win this game for a number of different reasons.

“For us we’re building as a football club and a group at the moment. We’ve got a very young squad out there and I think at times that enthusiasm got us through.

“I’m pleased for Ross because he’s a lad who wears his heart on his sleeve and works hard for the team. He does a lot of unsung stuff for the team and for him to get on the scoresheet. I’m really pleased for him.

“Their keeper rightfully got the man-of-the-match award because I thought he had a fantastic game.”

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola heaped praise on his team after they twice came from behind to draw 3-3 at Barnsley and force a replay in the Emirates FA Cup first round.

Tom Richards scored the second equaliser to take the tie back to Woodside Road and Di Paola hailed a monumental effort.

“I thought the boys were absolutely phenomenal,” he said. It was just an incredible performance.

“You could see at the end, I don’t think there was anyone without cramp. For us to put in that performance, away from home against a side as good as them, is just incredible.

“There’s been a bit of controversy around the FA stuff and there’s been some issues here. I noticed there wasn’t any police, which is quite ironic considering that was the reason the game was supposedly moved (from Saturday to Friday night).

“I do feel that justice has been done. I never understood the decision in the first place.

“It’s just so pleasing that we can bring them back to our place. We can bring the town out and be allowed to let our supporters actually watch us in such a high-profile game.”

Richards converted after the ball was squared to him by fellow substitute Lucas Rodrigues and Di Paola said: “It’s a massive credit to all of our players. The subs who came on changed the game.

“We’ve worked so hard this week, mainly on the tactics board. I didn’t feel like we parked the bus. I felt that we had an attacking threat.

“It’s just so pleasing that we did that. I’m really pleased.”

After falling behind to a Max Watters goal, the visitors took a 2-1 lead through Shamir Fenelon and a James Hammond penalty.

Goals from Fabio Jalo and Mael de Gevigney put Barnsley back in front but Lewis Carey’s triple save prevented John McAtee, Callum Styles or Luca Connell from putting the game to bed before Richards levelled in the closing stages.

Barnsley boss Neill Collins praised Horsham, saying: “I think, first of all, credit to Horsham.

“They came super organised, didn’t just sit back, had a good game plan so credit to them. Their fans should be proud of them, which I’m sure they are.

“I think we put in all the ingredients of a performance that gives the result that we got – sloppy mistakes, not doing the basics well, didn’t take chances and gave up.

“We earned the replay that we didn’t obviously want with the performance that we gave.

“I didn’t see it coming. The players’ attitude has been good and we’ve been in good form.

“That’s what this competition can do to you. If you don’t start well, it can quickly descend into what it did.

“I thought we’d get out at 3-2 – we should have made it 4-2 – and then without being over-happy, we’d have taken the win and moved on.

“A couple of mistakes and Horsham deserved the replay. There’s a chance for us to go and put it right.”

Plucky Horsham twice came from behind to earn a 3-3 draw at Barnsley as substitute Tom Richards earned them an FA Cup first-round replay.

Barnsley took a 14th-minute lead when Jamie McCart’s ball into the area was met by a close-range header from Max Watters.

The visitors equalised eight minutes later when Shamir Fenelon produced a fine finish after Dan Ajakaiye caused problems for the Barnsley defence with his pace.

After Barnsley’s Callum Styles struck the bar, James Hammond put Horsham ahead from a 38th-minute penalty after Ajakaiye was fouled by Corey O’Keeffe inside the area.

Barnsley were back on level terms in first-half stoppage time when Fabio Jalo scored with a superb curling effort, and the hosts regained the lead in the 64th minute when Mael de Gevigney headed in O’Keeffe’s corner.

Horsham, though, drew level again in the 81st minute when Jack Strange found Lucas Rodrigues and he squared to fellow replacement Richards to tap in.

It was a spirited performance from Horsham, who are in the seventh tier, against League One opposition.

Sheppey United’s historic FA Cup run was ended with a 4-1 defeat to League Two Walsall.

The eighth-tier outfit, who sit 73 places below the Saddlers in the English football pyramid, were competing in the first round proper for the first time in their 123-year history.

A packed house of 1,400 were crammed in at Holm Park to roar on the lowest-ranked side left in the competition on the biggest night in the club’s history.

They were sent into euphoria when James Bessey-Saldanha opened the scoring for the Isthmian League South East Division side with a stunning 25-yard strike against the run of play in the 21st minute.

Scaffolder Connor Wilkins cleared Douglas James-Taylor’s effort off the line before Billericay penalty hero Aiden Prall produced some fine saves to keep out Isaac Hutchinson and Ryan Stirk in the first half.

The Ites were frustratingly undone by an error of their own making when a stray back pass fell to James-Taylor, who expertly fired across Prall just after the half hour.

The Saddlers’ dominance paid in the second half. Tom Knowles fired the visitors in front with a fine strike eight minutes after the restart.

On-loan Motherwell midfielder Ross Tierney wrapped up the tie with his sweeping 63rd-minute effort.

Hutchinson added gloss as he poked home the fourth late on after Prall fumbled under pressure.

Kyrell Lisbie has his sights set on an FA Cup upset when eighth-tier Cray Valley face Charlton at The Valley – where his father Kevin scored a hat-trick in the Premier League to beat Liverpool 20 years ago.

Cray Valley Paper Mills Football Club, to give them their full title, are five steps below the Sky Bet League One Addicks in the pyramid  – but less than four miles separate the two Greenwich teams, who have plenty of local connections.

Kevin Lisbie made more than 150 appearances for Charlton, with one of his most memorable coming when he bagged a Premier League hat-trick in the 3-2 win over Liverpool during September 2003.

Jamaica international Lisbie later had spells at Colchester, Ipswich and Leyton Orient, before he spent two seasons with Cray Valley, playing in the 2019 FA Vase final at Wembley.

Shortly after turning 16, Kyrell made his debut for the Millers’ first team when replacing his father as a substitute in a London Senior Cup tie during April 2021.

Following an unsuccessful six-week trial trial at West Ham, he and twin brother Kyreece were taken on by Watford at under-18 level. After being released by the Hornets, Kyrell joined Welling United on a short-term deal in January 2023, before then returning to Cray Valley in August.

The 19-year-old winger scored twice in the 5-2 fourth qualifying round win over Enfield Town, which sent the Isthmian League South East Division side into the draw for the first round proper.

With seven goals in the competition so far, Lisbie is in the race for this season’s Mitre Golden Ball Award, which recognises the top scorer in the FA Cup and gives players lower down the pyramid the opportunity to compete against Premier League stars.

Lisbie’s jubilant reaction to the first round draw went viral – with him and Kyreece, now in Brentford’s B squad, having almost one million combined followers on TikTok.

However, come kick-off for Sunday’s televised tie at The Valley, the teenage forward will be fully focussed on helping the Millers produce their own bit of FA Cup magic for the archives.

“The mentality is to go out there and try to face what is in front of us. We know the quality that Charlton have and we know that it is going to be a tough battle,” Lisbie told the PA news agency.

“It was an amazing draw, with how close the two teams are to each other and everything else. I feel like it is written in the stars that we go out there and perform.

“They are a good team, but the beauty of the FA Cup is you just never know what the result will be.

“The boys have fully deserved it. It is going to be a special day and occasion.

“There have been a few upsets and I just can’t wait for it.”

Lisbie is in no doubt about how “massively important” the continued support of their father, 45, has been for him and his twin brother on their own footballing journey, which has not always been smooth after they were released by Orient after Under-14s.

“My dad has always been there with the work we have put in, off the pitch too with hill runs or 5k runs – we have done them all with him,” he said.

“It is a credit to him because he has never put any pressure on us or really forced us to kind of follow in his footsteps.

“He has always just let us be and whenever we come to him, he is always willing to help us become better because he knows what it takes.”

Kyreece Lisbie also had a spell alongside Kyrell at Cray Valley.

After leaving Watford at the conclusion of the 2021/22 season, Kyreece joined Brentford B. In June, he signed a one-year contract extension with the west London club.

The twins have used their popular social media accounts to chart both the lows and highs of a young footballer’s career path.

“There is not always ‘ups’ – and me getting released from Watford was not pleasant, but it is to show the work that it takes to get into clubs like Watford and the (different) routes, which for some kids will be a lot easier than others,” Kyrell said.

“The things which me and my twin post try to kind of document that, (showing) this is what it takes and the hard work, the dedication and also the noes.

“Being told you are not good enough at something you spent thousands of hours investing in is difficult, but that is how me and my twin have kind of got quite popular on TikTok because a lot of young footballers can relate to hearing that.

“We are just trying to show our journeys and to inspire kids to show that you can get to where you want to be.”

John Mousinho is honest when asked what has caught him off guard as a new manager.

The Portsmouth boss is learning the ropes, 11 months into his career, despite guiding his unbeaten side to the top of Sky Bet League One.

As the former chair of the Professional Footballers’ Association and a player who started his coaching badges early, his transition to management has been almost seamless.

Yet the former defender who made 550 appearances in an 18-year career is still getting used to one final change.

“I love the job, I really do, everything apart from three to five o’clock on Saturday is great because I just feel completely helpless,” he told the PA news agency.

“Any time you see a head coach or a manager on the sidelines and their behaviour seems a bit erratic just spare them a thought because you lose that control. Sometimes it’s such an emotional game, emotions get the better of you.

“It’s been the biggest surprise because as a player I always felt in control, at least able to influence something. In some ways you do have ultimate influence and control but in others you’re standing on the touchline hoping 11 players do their jobs.

“A lot of the time it’s a really horrible place to be but, genuinely, I am loving it.

“We knew it (his appointment) might be seen as more of a gamble or risk than normal, although we didn’t think it was the case.

“If you start gambling with the future of the football club you can put yourself in a bit of a tricky spot.

“There’s a risk in every appointment and that was one of my answers when we were talking about the whole process and the appointment itself, there’s mystery with every single appointment no matter how many games you’ve managed or coached.”

That process has taken the 37-year-old, the third youngest boss in the EFL, and Pompey to the League One summit with a six-point lead.

Stretching back to March, they have not lost in the league in 26 games and have won 17 points from losing positions this season – including coming from 2-0 down to beat Reading 3-2 on Saturday.

Mousinho’s January appointment raised eyebrows as he was still playing and coaching at Oxford under Karl Robinson. He had 24 hours before his first game – a 2-0 win over Exeter – but has not looked back, having also had to step down from the PFA.

“I’d been with Oxford, at Fleetwood away, and I didn’t play. I was sat at the back of the bus and 10 days later I was the head coach of Portsmouth,” said September’s League One manager of the month, who credits Robinson for his guidance.

“It’s strange making the transition. Your whole life has changed overnight.

“I had to think about how I interacted with players, how I interact with the staff. As a player you can be very, very selfish. Then all of a sudden, you can’t be as a head coach.

“The biggest change from when I first started playing and maybe in the last 10 years is players have become a lot more conscientious about their own careers.

“It’s an interesting new side of it. When people first started playing it maybe wasn’t particularly cool to do your extras, to look at video analysis and dedicate your life to being a professional footballer.

“We were getting to the back end of the drinking culture when I first started playing and it’s slowly gone out of the game so players are much more focused on their own development.

“We’re probably just a bit behind other countries in terms of the way we’ve embraced that as individuals. There’s no longer the accusation of being busy. It’s good to be good.”

Mousinho takes Portsmouth to Chesterfield on Sunday in arguably the pick of the FA Cup first-round ties.

The Spireites, top of the Vanarama National League, are managed by former Pompey boss Paul Cook, along with the ex-players on his coaching staff Gary Roberts, Tom Naylor and Michael Jacobs.

Just four years after winning the FA Cup in 2008, Portsmouth were relegated to League One and spiralled into the fourth tier before Cook took them back up in 2017. They have been in League One since and Mousinho plans to be the one to take them out.

“When you’re at Portsmouth, one of the first things people talk about is the success with the FA Cup,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of spice to this game.

“The club has been through a lot over the past 10-15 years, going right to the brink of liquidation, so what we’re trying to do is part of the long, slow rebuild.

“Everybody’s desperate to move the club forward, the most important thing is we move the club forward in the right way.

“That’s been the whole mantra since day one. Yes, we want to get out and we’d love to have done it yesterday but these things just take time.”

Slough boss Scott Davies is back involved in the FA Cup first round but this time the only rush he is seeking is the high of a win.

Davies, who is candid enough to admit he lost his professional career because of gambling, was a player at Crawley when they reached the fifth round in 2012.

Under the stewardship of Steve Evans, Crawley won four ties before they were beaten by then-Premier League opposition in Stoke, but Davies laughs upon the realisation that he did not contribute towards that run.

“It sounds normal for me, but I fell out with the manager that season, so I didn’t play a big part at all,” Davies told the PA news agency ahead of sixth-tier Slough hosting Sky Bet League Two outfit Grimsby on Sunday.

Except that is no longer normal for a player once so crippled by a gambling addiction that he quit the professional game at the age of 26 after losing more than £200,000.

Davies’ relationship with gambling started a decade earlier when he walked into a bookmaker to kill time after training with Reading’s youth team, but in the flash of an eye his £50 weekly wage had been swallowed by the roulette machine and he suddenly had no money for the £1.50 bus fare to training.

Across the next 10 years the midfielder would score against Chelsea in pre-season, but blow his chance to work with ex-Royals boss Brendan Rodgers, regularly bet on himself, waste a £30,000 signing on fee in a fortnight and hurt the people closest to him.

Plenty of wake-up calls were ignored: sleeping in his car, bailiffs knocking at his door and even a crash when he was watching horse racing on his phone.

But a year after being released by Oxford, the sight of his emotional mother outside a bookmaker tipped Davies over the edge and he subsequently checked into rehab at Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance clinic in 2015.

He said: “My rock bottom was when I lost my football career ultimately because of my gambling.

“I didn’t deserve to be a professional footballer any longer because I wasn’t living the life of a professional.

“It was around a year after I came out of the professional game when I was playing in non-league that it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“I lost my identity of who I was, I didn’t have any structure, focus or routine in my life and I found myself self-harming in my kitchen in 2015, which was a dark place.

“I look back now and realise I tried to deal with the problems myself when I wasn’t equipped to do that.

“When I started talking about the issue, I felt like I started to overcome it and it has been over eight years now since I had a bet.

“I’ve definitely turned a corner for the better and I am in a good place.”

Davies has transformed his life since leaving rehab and now regularly visits Premier League and Football League training grounds to share his story as part of his work with EPIC Risk Management, a global gambling harm minimisation consultancy.

While the 35-year-old believes football is finally starting to take gambling seriously, with more education and better help on offer, he has been saddened by the plight of Brentford forward Ivan Toney and Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali, both of whom are currently serving bans for betting on the sport.


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“We want the integrity of our game to be kept at the highest level possible, but I also find it extremely sad that people are struggling with addiction,” Davies added.

“We sometimes forget the person involved and just look at the story. No one has a bet with the intention of losing their career, but sometimes addiction can take over.

“From what I am reading, Tonali and Ivan Toney have definitely had an issue with gambling and hopefully they come out on the right side and get the help they need.

“I am actually really forward to seeing Ivan Toney come back. For me it will be great to see he has recovered from any issues he might have been facing and got the help he needed.”

The ‘new Scott Davies’ is approaching a year in management, happily married and content with life.

Davies, who has made 179 appearances for Slough since 2018, masterminded a successful survival mission in the National League South last season after being named permanent player-boss in November.

Now into his first full campaign as a manager, Davies will take on a Football League side on Sunday when Grimsby visit a sold-out Arbour Park, but the former Reading protege has no current desires to return to the pro game.

Davies added: “A lot of people say I should get my badges and focus on getting to the Football League as a manager, but I’m very different.

“With what I have been through in my life and where I have been, I am quite content and happy with what I am doing at the moment with being player-manager at Slough and working with EPIC.

“I take each day as it comes, like I have done for probably the last eight years.

“The regrets I have in football I am definitely making amends for now. I know I can get some unbelievable days as a manager and hopefully one of them starts with a win on Sunday.”

Football Association bosses have pledged to keep fans informed of any future changes that may be made to the FA Cup.

The PA news agency understands four supporters’ representatives met with members of the FA’s senior leadership on Tuesday afternoon, following reports that an agreement with the Premier League over the sale of overseas FA Cup rights could lead to major changes to the knockout competition including the scrapping of replays, the removal of the FA Cup final’s exclusive slot at the end of the season, and making it a midweek competition.

Fans were told the overseas rights sale was separate to discussions around calendar, which are happening as part of the ‘New Deal For Football’ talks which also include financial distribution between the Premier League, the FA and the EFL, plus cost controls.

The FA representatives present assured fans they value the FA Cup and are determined to do everything they can to protect it, and pledged to discuss the detail of any possible changes once a firm proposal is available to share.

Changes of some sort in both domestic knockout competitions seem inevitable due to an expansion of UEFA’s club competitions from 2024-25 and also the introduction of a new 32-team Club World Cup by FIFA from 2025, plus an extended World Cup from 2026 which impacts upon when players can take their off-season breaks.

However, the FA told fans these considerations have been conflated with the separate process of selling overseas FA Cup rights.

The Infront Sports and Media agency has instructed lawyers over the FA’s handling of the initial tender process for a portion of the international rights.

Infront had been given preferred bidder status for a portion of the overseas rights by the FA in early May in the original process, before the FA paused that process to assess what an Infront statement described as a “third party offer”.

The FA opened a new, longer-term tender which ran from July 4 to 17. Infront is understood not to have made an offer in the new process.

The FA has so far not commented on the tender for its overseas FA Cup rights.

Fan representatives will meet with the Football Association over the next two weeks amid concerns over the FA Cup’s future.

The FA is in talks with the Premier League over a long-term partnership to sell overseas Premier League and FA Cup rights collectively in the future, the PA news agency understands.

It has been reported the partnership would effectively lead to the FA handing control over its most prestigious competition to the Premier League.

The Football Supporters’ Association expressed its concern at the reports on Thursday and said it had written to the FA to request a meeting.

PA understands the fans’ group got a swift response from FA chief executive Mark Bullingham. No date has been fixed, but it is understood the intention is for the meeting to take place over the next couple of weeks.

The FSA has been encouraged by the level of engagement it has had with the FA in recent years, with FA chair Debbie Hewitt becoming the first person in her position to attend one of the FSA’s events in person when she helped open the European Football Fans Congress in Manchester last month.

Fan sources hope the governing body will be able to allay concerns over what any deal with the Premier League might mean for the FA Cup.

Reports have suggested it could mean the scrapping of replays, making the cup a midweek competition and stripping the final of its own slot at the end of the domestic season.

Talks around how the domestic calendar could look from 2024-25, when the expansion of UEFA’s club competitions will create extra pressure, were already part of the ‘New Deal For Football’ discussions involving the FA, the Premier League and the EFL.

Those talks are aimed at finding an ‘all game solution’ to various issues including financial distribution from the Premier League to the EFL and the pyramid, cost controls and work permits.

The FSA’s most recent fan survey found 70 per cent of supporters wanted replays to remain a part of the FA Cup, while fewer than 10 per cent backed the idea of all FA Cup ties being played in midweek.

The meeting is likely to come after the new tender process for the overseas rights has closed, with the deadline for invitations set at July 17.

The Infront Sports and Media agency had been given preferred bidder status for a portion of the overseas rights by the FA in early May in the original tender process, but said the FA had abruptly paused negotiations after receiving a third party offer which it needed to assess.

PA understands the new tender is much longer term than the original, and includes all overseas rights when existing deals expire.

Sleep-deprived Manchester City winger Jack Grealish admits he has had “the best day and night” as the club celebrated their treble-winning season following the capture of the Champions League title.

Even a typical Manchester downpour and passing lightning storm could not dampen spirits as Pep Guardiola and his squad paraded their newly-acquired European Cup alongside the Premier League trophy and FA Cup.

City returned from Istanbul on Sunday afternoon and it has been one long party – with celebrations set to continue for a while longer as Grealish was overheard to ask striker Erling Haaland: ‘Are we having it?’ while on their one-mile tour around the city centre.

Haaland’s response was to empty a bottle of champagne over the £100million signing, who later told a large crowd assembled in St Peter’s Square: “For the past 24 hours I’ve had the best day and night. To be fair I don’t think I’ve had any sleep.”

The players had arrived for their parade via Metrolink tram from the Etihad Stadium but the weather delayed proceedings somewhat.

Supporters had expected to be let into the fanzone in front of the stage at 5pm but due to the threat of lighting storms that was pushed back by 90 minutes.

Rain started falling shortly after 6pm and, as a result, the start of the proceedings was delayed by 40 minutes but it did not deter the fans who came out in their droves to cheer on City’s squad and manager Guardiola, all wearing matching ‘Treble winners’ T-shirts.

Halfway around those now-drenched T-shirts started to be dispensed with as City’s 52-goal striker Haaland threw his into the crowd and, with the rest of the squad, arrived on stage 45 minutes later than expected still topless.

“We had to be the best parade with this rain, otherwise it is not Manchester,” Guardiola said to the delight of the waiting crowd.

“We don’t want sunshine, we want rain, so it was perfect. They (fans) are used to the rain.”

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