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  • Statement: FA Cup Replays

    Bury News Feed
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    Bury Football Club is in the highly unusual position of speaking from the lowly position of a club in the ninth tier of English football and as one who has actually twice won the FA Cup. These days our FA Cup campaign starts in August, before the Premier League has even started.

    Cup replays have long been a staple of the competition and have provided an opportunity for non-league clubs to generate much-needed revenue and increase their profile. More importantly, the history of the competition demonstrates that replays have played a significant role in creating so many memories, which span generations of football supporters.

    Last season our FA Cup run took us to within one game of the first round proper. We were eventually knocked out in October after nine FA Cup games. Three of them were replays. Manchester City won the Cup in six games, none of them replays.

    We knew, even if we didn’t admit it publicly, that these cup runs would hurt our league form. We saw performances dip a little after a big cup game. They also hurt us financially. The prize fund for winners in each round is usually enough to help clubs break even for the fixture given gate receipts are split. We don’t think the players or supporters regretted a single minute of it.

    We could have asked the manager to play a weakened team. He wouldn’t have accepted that and nor would our fans. The FA Cup is too important to all football supporters for us not to treat it with the respect it deserves.

    All clubs and all supporters have cherished memories of FA Cup replays under the floodlights. We loved ours.

    Players with full time jobs outside football will slog their way through the early rounds, making their own way to away fixtures, barely covering their own travel costs, to be watched by supporters who are genuinely excited to be travelling on a Saturday morning to places they had to Google the day before to find. The Premier League, we are told, is the ‘product’ the global market wishes to consume. The FA Cup is the beating heart of football that English fans savour. Accident, risk, failure, mud, pitches with slopes, and very occasionally last minute glory, are all part of its beauty.

    This should not be a debate about the financial implications of removing replays. This is about what football supporters really want, what we love and cherish and why that is worth protecting. It about “the magic of the cup”.

    Bury Football Club now stand shoulder to shoulder with other volunteer run clubs at the foot of the football pyramid, not with the modern day FA Cup winners. We would like their voice to be heard too.

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