Date: 24th February 2016 at 3:31pm
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It’s being reported that the Premier League are in discussions with the Football Association over a lighter domestic Cup schedule.

ESPN earlier last week carried a story that they claimed was fuelled by ‘high ranking sources’ at both the Premier League and the Football League, who had confirmed that talks were already ongoing over making the FA Cup and League Cup less demanding on Premier League sides in an effort to boost both the England national side as well as the performance of clubs in European competitions.

It’s hardly a new suggestion to be fair with a lot of talk about the heavy fixture list for successful clubs, when compared to their European compatriots and the regular excuses offered saying that the England side could always be more fatigued and less sharp than others in major tournaments, and ESPN were quick to point out that whilst joint plans exist to try and improve the situation – nothing has yet been agreed and nothing is on the table for agreement either.

It’s very much the case of tentative talks so far.

It is however the first time there has been a consensus between the two bodies that something definitely needs to be done.

The outlet went on to say that up for discussion would be the abolition of weekend FA Cup games that take precedence over the League fixtures, as well as removing replays and the two legged League Cup semi final schedule – with more games going to penalties if required to get a decision on the night.

Whilst any future agreements would no doubt be staged in and be medium to long term changes, the fact England is one of few countries to have a second domestic League Cup competition, it won’t be long before it’s speculated that the League Cup could be turned into a Football League only competition and maybe request for entry from Premier League sides not in Europe – but I can only assume that with the two authorities saying that nothing will be off the table when it comes to potential ideas.

As well as obvious reference to the number of injuries in the Premier League – despite Football League clubs having more games in the League list – there was also a suggestion that some poor darlings from abroad hadn’t wanted to join clubs because of the ‘intensity’ of the playing year and that’s why they preferred Real Madrid and Barcelona as destinations.

Nowt to do with money, glory and the sun!

Moving swiftly on.

Yes, you can see the sense in doing away with replays for clubs competing in Europe (from a tiredness perspective I’m sure Championship, League One and Two clubs would agree with that with a heavier league fixture list to begin with), but what about clubs who aren’t in Europe – and those Premiership clubs who find themselves lucky to have a second bite at a Cup cherry and get it right at the second time of asking?

Clubs in Europe generally carry a bigger squad to cope anyway, and the Premier League was already trimmed down on clubs so ‘top’ players had more of a rest – so how far do we protect the status quo and make changes to ensure richer, more heavily stocked clubs get a better deal?

Also, having mentioned Premiership sides who need a replay to get through – how do you then adequately reward smaller clubs with the replay pay day in Cup competitions – if games subject to one would now go to penalties?

Contrary to the Sky belief, not all fans just want to watch football against the so called Top 4 and with success comes the reward of money to cope with what these days are presumed as less glamorous competitions.

Many Premier League squads have a tendency to bring in youngsters or more fringe players anyway thesedays?

With Wembley based semi finals being a great money spinner, what about the magic of the League Cup semi finals and a chance to taste a semi (oh er) at your home ground and play your part in roaring your side on?

We won’t go back to neutral grounds for FA Cup semi’s – it would be at Wembley with a nice price rise again.

Higher level clubs are already favoured with staggered entry to avoid the fixture build up – why not agree to just let clubs decide if either Cup is important for them and then let them deal with the fans if they deem it not to be, instead of trying to find a fix all solution where the truth of the matter is every year it effects a handful of clubs – usually the same ones – so let them find their own solutions.

Shrewsbury Town manager Micky Mellon, explained it perfectly in his own response to the suggestion.

‘That would kill us. Absolutely we could lose clubs. Replays keep clubs afloat. I don`t know many clubs at this level making money. We wash our own face and teeter on and make sure we`re not in any debt. To get that extra money in will only help us improve our football club.’

Adding.

‘That`s the dream for anybody at this level, to go and play and prove you can function at those levels. If you give us less of a chance of doing that it takes a massive part of the romance out of the cup. I want this to be what it is, it`s a massive day for us. If you take away that chance of playing at those big stadiums, English football loses a massive thing.’

Hull City manager Steve Bruce, who now faces a replay against Arsenal, did hold a different view though and maybe it’s one more shared by Championship level clubs.

‘For us now we`ve got Arsenal back at our patch where people can get excited because we`ve got Arsenal in the cup, which is great for the supporters. But for the ones who`ve made it down there or the Arsenal fans now to go up to Hull, it`s a lot of money and a lot of expense. A penalty competition? Is it the excitement of the FA Cup? It could add to it where we go straight into a penalty competition against Arsenal. It would give us a better chance.’

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