David Wagner offers opinion on controversial FA Cup changes

The FA announced on Thursday that it had struck a deal with the Premier League, reportedly without the consultation of numerous EFL or National League clubs, to implement changes to the competition. The deal involves scrapping replays from the first round onwards alongside a host of other alterations. 

Plenty of clubs lower in the pyramid have condemned the changes set to be introduced at the start of next season. The FA said the deal would see the Premier League “providing up to an additional £33m for grassroots football on top of the £100m it currently gives to good causes each season.”

They also claim the changes have been approved by the Professional Game Board, which includes four EFL, National League and grassroots representatives. 

Norwich were forced to a replay in this year’s competition by Bristol Rovers, a tie they won 3-1 at the Memorial Stadium to earn a fourth-round trip to Anfield to face Premier League challengers Liverpool. 

That tie aided the League One side financially, and would be the type of game no longer visible in the game from the first round onwards, with financial implications for clubs down the leagues. 

In a statement, Rovers said: ‘Bristol Rovers’ own FA Cup third-round replay at The Memorial Stadium, against Sky Bet Championship side Norwich City, attracted an attendance of over 10,000 fans for a midweek evening fixture in January and provided a valuable and important income for the club.’

Wagner was asked for his thoughts on the changes at his pre-match press conference on Thursday and agrees with the decision to scrap replays despite the anger lower down the pyramid. 

Norwich Evening News: The FA have announced a host of changes to the FA Cup from the start of next season.The FA have announced a host of changes to the FA Cup from the start of next season. (Image: PA Images)

“The truth is because I’m German, and in the German Cup, we never had replays as far as I can remember. I like it,” he said. 

“It is one game, and it is live or die. I like this. This is the case now apart from that it’s always difficult as a manager if the schedule for the next few weeks is not clear because you don’t know if you or your opponent has a replay – this is very challenging as a manager.

“In general, I like one game, and you go through it or not. This is something which excites.” 

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