FA Cup replays scrapped in 2020-21 to ease fixture congestion

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and head coach Mikel Arteta pose with the trophy after defeating Chelsea. (AP pic)

LONDON: The FA Cup will not have replays for the 2020-21 season to help ease fixture congestion caused by the Covid-19 crisis, England’s Football Association (FA) said on Thursday.

Next season’s competition is scheduled to begin on Sept 1 — only a month after the 2020 final — with the showpiece match at Wembley set to take place on May 15, 2021.

“In order to assist in easing pressure on the football schedule, there will be no replays for the 2020-21 season,” the FA said in a statement, as it announced the schedule.

The FA added that the prize fund would return to 2017-18 levels because of the financial impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak after two seasons of record payment levels.

The winners will receive £1.8 million, down from £3.6 million last season.

Arsenal beat London rivals Chelsea in the 2020 final on Aug 1 for a record-extending 14th triumph in the competition.

Meanwhile, the English Football League (EFL) said the two-legged semi-finals of the League Cup will be replaced by single ties to be played in January 2021.

The first four rounds of the competition will take place on consecutive weeks, kicking off in early September.

Premier League clubs will enter the competition in the second or third round if they are competing in European competition in the 2020-21 season.

The draw for the first round will take place on Aug 18.

Manchester City beat Aston Villa 2-1 in March to win the trophy last season.

The new Premier League season will begin on Sept 12 and finish on May 23, with the full schedule detailing all 380 matches set to be released no later than Aug 21.

Liverpool won the 2019-20 Premier League title in June with seven games to spare after the season resumed following a three-month suspension due to the novel coronavirus.

The EFL season is also scheduled to start on Sept 12.