Tuktuk Day 106

Exeter City

Welcome to Exeter City. I hope you enjoyed the two days on the Devon/Cornwall border. Now it is St James Park and the Grecians in South Devon who are Plymouth’s nearest Football League Club. They will finish mid-table in League One but perhaps their biggest claim to fame this season is an amazing away record since Christmas. Just about the best in the EFL. Gillingham take note!

Today we talk about changes in the greatest club competition in the world. In honesty, I could have chosen one of many clubs for today’s post but I thought Exeter City put it succinctly. The social media forums have been melting this week with 99% of the comments being aggressively anti the decision by the FA and The Premier League to change the format of the FA Cup competition. The whole of the football world bar perhaps a dozen PL clubs, seem to be in agreement. This is WRONG! It should not take place. Tragedy.

Exeter City Football Club and the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust are bitterly disappointed, but not surprised, to learn of the fundamental changes that have been agreed to the format of the FA Cup, with seemingly no consultation of EFL and National League clubs.

Our football club, like many others, owes its past, its present and its future to the FA Cup replays that have now been taken away from us by those who sit at the very top of the game. The televised replay against Manchester United that helped keep the Club alive in the early years of supporter ownership. The trip to Anfield after holding Liverpool to a draw at St James Park. The home replays against Leicester City and Newcastle United on our way to the Quarter Finals in 1981. And so many more.

That only a select few clubs are allowed to slowly chip away at the very fabric of what makes the English game the envy of most with complete impunity serves only as a reminder of why the Independent Regulator is so desperately needed.

Exeter City Football Club and the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust condemn the decision to scrap FA Cup replays and call on The FA to suspend these changes with immediate effect until a consultation of all stakeholders has taken place.”

It is rare to get much unity of thought but this quotation by Tranmere Rovers FC is in a similar vein and good overview of general opinion. Football is about opinions. In August 92 sets of supporters believe their team will have a great season and get promotion and a run to Wembley. The reality is that is impossible. That does not stop us believing. What the “Powers that Be” have done is to suck the romance out of the competition. Who can ever forget Hereford Utd v Newcastle Utd or, just this season, Cray Wanderers v Charlton Athletic. As a Gillingham fan, I can cite iconic ties against Everton, Leeds United and Maidstone United. Under the new format these games

Tranmere Rovers condemn the disgraceful decision taken by The FA and the Premier League to change the format of the FA Cup, including the scrapping of replays.

There was no consultation with Football League clubs, National League clubs or grassroots clubs to whom the competition represents not only their best opportunity to create life-long memories for supporters but also a hugely important source of income. We also understand that FA Council members were not consulted about the changes.

The decision, and the way it was taken, demonstrate a total lack of respect for the football pyramid and its fans. Football belongs to all of us and decisions should not be taken in back room deals in which only the very wealthiest clubs are allowed to participate. It is yet another eloquent example of the 19th-century governance that means that football simply cannot regulate itself and needs the Independent Football Regulator to have real teeth.

We condemn the changes wholeheartedly and urge The FA to suspend them immediately until all stakeholders in the game are properly consulted.”

Moving on, Robbie Savage, Neil Harris and Stan Collymore are not usually people I have a huge amount of time for but both have come out strongly to condemn the changes. #respect.

Harris reached the FA Cup final as a player for Millwall in 2004 and as a manager he took the club on memorable cup runs to the latter stages of the tournament in 2017 and 2019.

The Millwall boss did not agree with the decision and believes it comes down the issue of money.

Speaking in his virtual pre-match press conference before the Lions go to Sunderland tomorrow, Harris said: “I don’t blame the FA and I don’t blame the EFL certainly. I’m passionate about the FA Cup – it’s a brilliant competition. I played it in my non-league days and I was unbelievably fortunate to play in the FA Cup final for Millwall.

“It’s the football calendar. It’s absolutely ridiculous. European football is a joke, it’s all about money. And all that’s doing is affecting teams down the pyramid system.

“The Premier League look like they don’t want to share that wealth and don’t want to do the deal with the EFL – that’s a shambles in itself. But that’s not for me to discuss now but as you can tell, I feel quite strongly about it.

“And now we’re going to lose replays and the chance for teams to go away from home, fight tooth and nail to scrape a 0-0 draw and then take it back to their place in a sold-out stadium against a Premier League, Championship, League One or League Two side.

Full statement here

Perhaps more interesting are the thoughts of Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh who has come out swinging against the FA, accusing them of passing the buck in the recent uproar over the decision to scrap FA Cup replays. As a key figure on the Professional Game Board (PGB) and vice chairman of the FA Cup committee, Kavanagh has denied that either of those bodies signed off on the major changes to the FA Cup

The controversy erupted following the FA’s announcement of significant changes to the beloved FA Cup, including the elimination of replays, as part of a new agreement with the Premier League. The move sparked immediate criticism from clubs and supporters alike, though sparked claims that Millwall chief Kavanagh and his fellow EFL board members on the PGB had also given their approval.

However, Kavanagh has vehemently denied having any input and has criticised the FA for trying to shift the blame onto others. Speaking to Mirror Football, he expressed his frustration, saying: “The first I knew of this announcement was when people were sat around the table [yesterday].” His full statement here

This story is not going to run away and I am sure I will be back to it soon. What say ye all?

In the meantime, please remember that the purpose of this 90 day challenge is to raise funds for my local club and an equal amount for Prostate Cancer. As always, I HOPE you are all enjoying the tour of the UK and that you will consider a donation to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in with just £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity could continue their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can.

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