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Why are there no FA Cup replays? New rules on extra time and penalties

Middlesbrough, FA Cup penalties
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are no FA Cup replays in the fourth round this season, with drawn games going straight to extra time.

Extra time will last 30 minutes, and if the score is still level, games will go to a penalty shootout. In penalties, both teams will see who can score more out of an initial five penalties, and if they are still level, sudden death penalties begin, where the first team to go ahead after an equal number of spot-kicks wins.

But getting rid of replays at this stage is a new introduction for the FA Cup.

Why are there no FA Cup replays?

The FA released a statement in December to announce that there would be no FA Cup replays for the third and fourth round in 2021/22. This was due to the danger of fixture backlogs, following a number of Covid-related postponements across all competitions.

“This exceptional decision was approved by the FA Board on Friday 17 December and has been taken in the wider interest of English football to alleviate the possibility of fixture congestion, following several postponements in recent days and continued uncertainty ahead due to Covid-19," the FA said.

“Ties in the third and fourth rounds of this season’s competition will be played to a finish on the day, with extra-time and penalty shootouts if required.”

Will the FA Cup fifth round, quarter-finals and semi-finals have replays?

Replays were scrapped for the FA Cup fifth round in 2018/19, quarter-finals in 2016/17, for semi-finals in 1999/2000 and for the final in 1998/99. 

The last final to have a replay was in 1993, when Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday, which finished 1-1. The replay also finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, with Arsenal winning 2-1 after extra time.

Has the FA Cup had extra time and penalties before?

Extra time was introduced for the FA Cup first round from 1991/92, after a third round game between Arsenal and Leeds had to be replayed three times. From then on, games would go to one replay, and then extra time and penalties.

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Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.