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.”

Bradford ended a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over Tranmere at Valley Parade.

A small group of Bradford fans had protested outside the ground before kick-off against club owner Stefan Rupp, who had written an open letter on Friday apologising for the club’s poor season.

But Graham Alexander’s side returned to winning ways thanks to second-half goals from Calum Kavanagh and Bobby Pointon.

Luke Norris shot just wide for Tranmere as the visitors looked to add to Bradford’s problems before Bantams captain Richie Smallwood sent a curling free-kick over the wall and against the bar.

Harvey Saunders nearly put Tranmere in front with a cheeky back-heel that Sam Walker smothered on the line.

Bradford struck the woodwork for a second time when Pointon’s low drive hit the inside of the post while Tranmere continued to create chances as well, with home keeper Walker needing to tip over from Saunders’ free-kick.

But Bradford took the lead after 64 minutes when Kavanagh turned home a low cross from Lewis Richards.

Kavanagh then set up Pointon for a thumping second goal five minutes later to ensure a three-point haul for Bradford.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca hailed the contribution of veteran striker Jamie Vardy as the Foxes continued their flying start to the season with a 2-0 Carabao Cup victory at Tranmere.

Second-half strikes from Wilfred Ndidi and former England international Vardy proved the difference as the Championship side ran out 2-0 victors against their League Two opponents.

It was a sixth win out of six for Leicester in all competitions this season and saw 36-year-old Vardy open his account for the campaign after returning to the starting line-up.

Maresca said: “I’m happy to continue in this competition and I’m happy for the players, especially the young players who don’t play every week.

“I’ve been really happy with Jamie Vardy because when a striker scores they are always happy for them as well as the team.

“He’s been performing well when he starts and as well when he’s been on the bench and his contribution has been amazing.”

The Foxes enjoyed large amounts of possession in the opening stages of the second-round clash at Prenton Park and had a number of chances to open the scoring with Harry Winks coming the closest after seven minutes.

But the 2016 Premier League champions did not have it all their own way with Rovers growing in confidence and, after defending resolutely for half an hour, created some decent openings through Dan Pike and Josh Hawkes.

The deadlock was finally broken nine minutes after the break when Ndidi’s effort from the right side of the box found its way into the net via both posts, and just four minutes later Vardy put the result beyond doubt with a close-range header from an Ndidi cross.

Further chances fell to the visitors as Rovers pushed forward with Vardy and Ndidi who were both foiled by Joe Murphy, a veteran of the meeting between these two in the final of this competition at Wembley 23-years ago.

Maresca added: “I was not happy at half-time so made some changes and we’ve played six games in around 20 days and we have one more to go before the international break.

“We’ve won six from six now and all the attention now turns to the game on Saturday before the international break when some of the players can conserve their energy.”

Despite the defeat, Tranmere manager Ian Dawes was keen to focus on the positives from the encounter.

He said: “We knew going into the game today that they don’t make many changes, they go really strong and the manager takes the competition seriously.

“We knew we had to get our defensive organisation right and we knew we needed to limit their chances on goal and push up as the game went on.

“We had to stifle the game a little bit, keep possession and then make opportunities ourselves and I thought we did that really well and it all went to plan and they probably scored the first goal when we were on top.

“We’ve got to be positive at the end of it, it still hurts getting beat and we obviously wanted to go through, but you’ve got to look at what they’ve got on the pitch.

“You look at their team and they’ve still got Premier League players in their team and taking things into context we can be nothing but positive and we have to take that into Saturday against Wrexham.”

Leicester were made to work hard for their place in the third round of the Carabao Cup with a battling 2-0 win over Tranmere at Prenton Park.

Second-half strikes from Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy proved to be the difference as the Foxes weathered a number of early scares to overcome their League Two opponents.

The Foxes enjoyed much of the possession in the early stages and could have taken the lead as early as the seventh minute when Harry Winks’ long-range effort flew narrowly wide.

The 2016 Premier League champions continued to dominate with further chances as Cesare Casadei’s header flew narrowly over the Rovers crossbar.

The visitors did not have it all their own way, however, and having defended resolutely and frustrating their Championship opponents for large periods of the game, Tranmere almost took the lead themselves when Dan Pike’s 20-yard effort was pushed out by Jakub Stolarczyk in the Leicester goal.

But the pressure eventually told after 55 minutes when Ndidi’s effort from the corner of the box ended up in the back of the net via both posts.

And just four minutes later Leicester doubled their lead when Vardy was on the spot to force the ball home from close range following an Ndidi cross right in front of the huge travelling support to make the game safe.

It is now five wins out of five in all competitions for Enzo Maresca’s side who will be in the hat for the third-round draw having also won their opening four matches of the Championship campaign.

Tranmere manager Ian Dawes praised his players for overcoming a late equaliser to progress to the second round of the Carabao Cup on penalties following a 2-2 draw with Barnsley.

Luke Norris and Sam Taylor gave the visitors the lead either side of the break, with Herbie Kane and Aiden Marsh twice equalising for the Tykes – with Marsh’s strike coming in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

Rovers won through 7-6 on penalties.

Dawes said: “I thought for the whole game we managed the game really well, we knew we had to be good out of possession today and get our organisation right.

“We also knew at times their deep lying midfielders would get a little bit of the ball but as long as it was in non-threatening positions, we couldn’t risk jumping out to them.

“I thought in possession we were very good, created a number of chances and we were probably unlucky not to get a third.

“The moment (goal) right at the end is a little kick in the teeth – it would have been nice to just win the game straight out but credit to the players to refocus again and go through on penalties.”

Despite the result, Barnsley head coach Neill Collins reflected on the positives.

He said: “I think there’s a lot of positives when you consider the young players that played tonight and the opportunities they got. I think there’s many more positives than negatives.

“I think it’s a good experience for them to have that belief that they can affect the game at this level.

“I look at Tranmere and they’re bringing on some really experienced players and they look to have a lot of good strength in depth.

“I think right now we are probably a little lighter in terms of the strength in depth but it was a great opportunity to showcase some of the young players.”

Tranmere progressed to the second round of the Carabao Cup after defeating League One Barnsley 7-6 on penalties following a 2-2 draw at Oakwell.

Luke Norris and Sam Taylor gave the visitors the lead either side of the break, with Herbie Kane and Aiden Marsh twice equalising for the Tykes.

Rovers’ early persistence paid off in the 24th minute, breaking the deadlock through a well-worked free-kick routine. Jake Leake’s ball into the box was headed back across goal by Tom Davies for Norris to guide home.

The hosts levelled three minutes into first-half stoppage time when Jon Russell broke into the box from the right, cutting back to Kane whose shot was spilled in by Joe Murphy.

Rovers regained the lead two minutes after the break. A succession of chances saw Taylor strike the crossbar before finding the far corner from the edge of the box moments later.

Neill Collins’ young Barnsley side remained resilient and found the leveller in the eighth minute of injury time as Charlie Winfield’s cross was flicked in by Marsh.

After the shootout reached sudden death, Paul Lewis’ success from the spot meant that Jack Shepherd’s following miss resulted in defeat for Barnsley.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.