(Reuters) – Replays will be scrapped from the fifth round of this season’s FA Cup, one season earlier than originally planned, the Football Association said on Tuesday.
In a statement the FA said the move would help ease fixture congestion with six Premier League teams participating in the knockout stages of European competitions and a midweek round of Premier League fixtures scheduled in late February and March.
“This season’s fifth round will remain as originally scheduled on the weekend of Feb. 16-17, moving to midweek in 2019-20 — with no replays,” the FA said in a statement.
“Therefore, from this season onwards, fifth round ties will be played to a finish on the day, with extra time and penalties if necessary.”
Although replays remain in place for the third and fourth rounds, some will say the move is another erosion of the importance of the world’s oldest domestic club competition.
In the past smaller clubs drawn at home to top-tier opposition in the FA Cup have enjoyed financial windfalls by holding out for a draw.
The FA said that if a fifth-round tie this season ends in a draw after 90 minutes, the prize for that fixture — 360,000 pounds — would be split with 75 percent allocated to the eventual winner and 25 percent to the loser.
In June, the FA, Premier League and English Football League announced plans to implement a two-week, mid-season break in February from the 2019-20 season.
Premier League matches will still be played every weekend over the period, with five games being held on the first weekend and five on the second. As a result, FA Cup fifth-round matches will be moved to mid-week.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru)