The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as FA Cup, is the oldest national football competition in the world. First played in the 1871-72 season, it is an annual knockout tournament in the men’s domestic circuit in England, eligible for all clubs in the first nine levels.

Replays in the initial round of the FA Cup have been controversial in recent times, considering the fixture congestion, especially in the post-COVID era. They were shelved for two seasons during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Instead, matches were decided by extra time and penalties.

However, FA Cup replays made a return in the 2022-23 season.

What is a replay in the FA Cup?

A replay match in the FA Cup is conducted when the score of a match between two clubs results in a draw/tie. The second game or replay is then played at the home ground of the club that played away in the first meeting at least 10 days following the initial match.

However, if the second game also ends in a stalemate, it is then followed by 30 minutes of extra time and a penalty shootout, if required. The winner of this match advances to the next round, whereas the loser is knocked out of the FA Cup.

Which rounds do FA Cup replays take place?

Replays take place in the FA Cup in rounds up to and including the fourth round of the tournament. It includes all qualifying rounds as well as the first, second, third and fourth round. According to the latest format, there are no replays in the FA Cup from the fifth round onwards.

The fifth round also previously consisted of a replay, which was removed from the 2018-19 season due to fixture congestion concerns. Meanwhile, they were scrapped from the quarter-finals in 2016-17.

FA Cup replay history

The first replay in FA Cup history was between Barnes and Hampstead Heathens in the second round of the first edition. However, in the first round of that edition, Hitchin and Crystal Palace played out a draw, yet were allowed a place in the second round.

FA Cup replays would earlier be played until one team emerged victorious. However, from 1990-91 onwards, ties have been restricted to a maximum of two games.

Fulham played 12 matches in six rounds during the 1974-75 season, the most games played by a team to reach the FA Cup final. 

While replays were previously held following three to four days after the original match, they have been conducted with a 10-day gap since 1991-92. It was due to this decision that penalty shootouts were introduced to the FA Cup, the first in November 1991 between Rotherham United and Scunthorpe United.


The 1875 FA Cup final was the first grand finale to go to a replay. Meanwhile, the 1993 final, won by record-winners Arsenal, was the last.


Manchester United, on the other hand, won the last FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham United in the 2015-16 season. It was also the last time the Red Devils won the trophy.  

Will FA Cup replays get scrapped?

There are no official plans to scrap replays in the FA Cup. However, concerns have been constantly raised over their existence due to fixture congestion, both at club and international level, causing an issue to players’ health and well-being. 


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