Ferguson against abolition of FA Cup replays

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has voiced his opinion on proposed changes to the format of the FA Cup.

Leaked documents detailing the possible remodeling of the oldest football competition in the world have suggested changes to several aspects of the tournament, including the abolition of replays and the viability of moving the kick-off time of the final away from the traditional 3pm to 5:30pm.

The news has been met with mixed reaction from various football organisations, but the Red Devils' boss Ferguson, five-times winner of the competition, has played down the pessimism.

"The proposal to switch the final to a tea-time kick-off instead of the traditional 3pm will please the broadcasters because early evening is a peak-viewing slot, but I can't see that making a fundamental difference to the popularity of the competition," the Old Trafford supremo says in his matchday programme notes ahead of United's FA Cup clash with Crawley Town.

However, Ferguson did reveal his reservations about changes to specific aspects of the competition, such as replays.

"I wouldn't like to see replays abandoned in favour of penalty shootouts," he said. "Think of Burton Albion and the money they were able to make from their replay with us.

"What I would like to see preserved is the timing of the FA Cup final to fall as the last day of the football season with the big day at Wembley."

Ferguson also suggested possible reform that he would welcome, including a change to the English football calendar to bring it line with the Bundesliga that would open the door for a winter break that has been widely called for since England's dismal showing at the 2010 World Cup.

"What I do think is worth looking at is the German model of taking a month's break from football in January and then launching the second half of the season with their cup competition," he said. "I know this would mean spilling over into the summer season but I see nothing wrong with that."

Read Sir Alex Ferguson's programme notes in full in Saturday's edition of United Review ahead of the Red Devils' FA Cup Fifth Round tie with Crawley Town at Old Trafford, priced at £3 in and around the ground. To subscribe, call 08456 777801 or visit www.themagazineshop.com

By Killian Woods

NEWS: Lindegaard learning from Van der Sar experience
NEWS: Crawley's Smith eager to face legends