WEYMOUTH and Dorchester Town managers Mark Molesley and Tom Killick have launched passionate condemnations of the decision to scrap FA Cup replays from the first-round proper.

Following the surprise announcement yesterday, there has been widespread anger amongst EFL, National League and grassroots clubs, many of whom have criticised an alleged lack of consultation.

The FA and Premier League’s statement said the decision to bin replays in the main draw would “strengthen” the game in light of increased involvement for the country’s elite in Europe.

Plans to provide an extra £33m in funding for the lower league game have also been criticised by some as an attempt to disguise the news.

READ MORE: FA and Premier League agree deal to scrap FA Cup replays

However, non-League clubs in particular have pointed out their reliance on money-spinning big games in the FA Cup, providing priceless income that can, in some cases, save a club from ruin.

Weymouth were one such instance last season as their run to the first round, and subsequent replay at League Two side AFC Wimbledon, helped them recover from heavy financial problems.

Adding their names to a growing list of angry clubs, the Terras waded in on the situation.

“Weymouth Football Club strongly condemns the action taken yesterday by the FA and the Premier League to remove first-round replays from the FA Cup,” they said.

“The decision was made with no consultation between the Football League, National League and grassroots clubs, and further to this FA Council members.

“This competition has, in its past, been a catalyst for not only lasting memories but strong financial reward for clubs who heavily rely on big fixture income to survive each year.

“The action highlights a concerning degree of disregard for the entirety of the English football pyramid, and as such a thorough understanding of the importance of all clubs within.

“Weymouth Football Club stands with all clubs that this decision will impact, and urges the Football Association to suspend proceedings to action until a time that sees proper consultation between all clubs that this inadvisable decision impacts.”

The FA also released a statement this morning, addressing the concerns shared by dozens of clubs.

They said: “We have listened to the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours and would like to outline the approval process which was undertaken for the 2024-25 professional game football calendar.

“We have been discussing the calendar for the 2024-25 season with the Premier League and EFL for well over a year. Removing Emirates FA Cup replays was discussed in the early meetings and all parties accepted that they could not continue. The discussions then focused on how to make all of our competitions stronger, despite having fewer dates available and wanting to maintain player welfare.

“The changes to the Emirates FA Cup achieve this by returning it to a weekend competition on every round, and ensuring that we have exclusive broadcast slots in an increasingly congested calendar.

“To clarify, we have also increased the number of Emirates FA Cup matches that will be broadcast in the early rounds, which will lead to additional guaranteed broadcast revenue for EFL and National League teams.

"Additionally, we review the prize money annually for the competition, together with representatives from the EFL and PL and will do the same for the 2024-25 season.

“The calendar for next season was approved by the professional game board, which consists of four EFL representatives and four Premier League representatives, last month, and then by the FA board, which includes Premier League, EFL, national game and grassroots representation. This is the process we undergo every year to approve the calendar.

“We understand the concerns expressed over the last 24 hours, and we will be sharing more details with clubs very shortly to explain the additional revenue opportunities in the early rounds.

“We will keep this under review as the new calendar begins to ensure that EFL and National League clubs do not lose out.”

However, Molesley noted the memories that the FA Cup creates.

The Terras’ manager recalled his match-winning goal for Aldershot Town against Portsmouth, which helped steady The Shots financially amid administration, 10 years ago.

Speaking to Echosport, he said: “It’s obviously a decision made for the Premier League, that is for sure, to keep their game time down.

“What they don’t realise is that the FA Cup can be a saviour of a lower-league club. It’s a unique, magical competition and unfortunately the big-wigs have decided.

“The magic of the cup is slowly coming out of it, which is a crying shame.

“A non-League club can survive for two or three years with a good cup run and it provides memories of a lifetime. It’s moments in history for clubs.

“A non-League team, getting a replay against a big team is absolutely huge.

“The opportunity for a club to stage a fantastic game, not to mention the revenue.

“When I was a player at Aldershot when we were in administration, we drew Portsmouth in the FA Cup.

“An absolutely huge game. Army v Navy towns on Remembrance Sunday. Two sell-out crowds, we got a replay and won the replay.

“Aldershot might not have been here if it weren’t for that cup game and the revenue. There will be hundreds of stories about non-League scalps.”

Molesley, who has also worked in Bournemouth’s under-21 setup during their Premier League days, also understands the reasoning behind the decision.

He added: “On the other hand, I can see at the top end with the amount of games and a few of them have gone crashing out of Europe.

“They’ll probably say that the amount of minutes they’re playing against some of their counterparts in Germany and Spain is providing a negative effect.

“Now, we might not be getting an extra Champions League place, funding and stuff like that.

“From a business point of view, for our giant clubs, I can see why they’re doing it. But it’s a sad day for the lower league and non-League clubs.

“That dream has just diminished a little bit.”

Dorchester boss Killick echoed Molesley’s thoughts but strongly disagreed with the Premier League and FA’s fixture congestion argument.

Killick believes English football’s elite have big enough squads and resources to cope with FA Cup replays, should they occur.

He said: “I do feel it’s short-sighted and unfair.

“There are so many historically big stories of cup upsets that have started with a replay.

“There’s been huge financial gains made by smaller clubs by securing replays from the first round onwards. That opportunity is now going to be taken away.

“With the way a lot of these really big Premier League clubs rotate their squads for FA Cup games now, I don’t really see why it’s needed.”

He added: “I just don’t really get it. If you’re a Premier League club, you’ve got these massive squads.

“This is something I take issue with anyway, but if you really want to, you have an FA Cup game and you’re playing Bognor Regis away or home and you are worried about the burden on your squad, then you just play a very youthful squad, you rotate.

“They’ve all got the capacity to do it. So, if they decide that’s in their interest, they can make that decision. So, I don’t think there’s any need for it.

“If you ask me whether the decision’s fair? No. Am I surprised? The answer is probably: ‘No’ because the decision’s been based on the influence that’s no doubt been brought to bear by the powerful clubs with money.”

Such has been the derision at the move, suggestions of boycotting the FA Cup have even been made.

However, Killick believes that to be too extreme.

He added: “The trouble is, every non-League club from Step 5 upwards, one of the big anticipations of the season, everyone’s hoping for a cup run.

“From the commercial side, the romance of it and the huge interest generated by a cup run.

“Bearing in mind it offers potentially so much to non-League clubs, to boycott it is just a very hard thing to contemplate.”

Meanwhile, Molesley hopes a resolution can be found before a boycott.

“I certainly hope it doesn’t get down to that position,” he added.

“We’ve got to find ways of supporting the workload of the teams at the top. We’ve got to give them the best chance to succeed in Europe.

“But there’s too many changes in the game for me now. I’m starting to get more and more old-fashioned as we go along.

“Playing around with a competition like the FA Cup, I understand some of the other cup competitions maybe not having replays, but the FA Cup is something special.

“Again, the rich have got their way. Unfortunately, that’s the way it works.

“If I was Pep Guardiola, I wouldn’t want replays in the FA Cup with my fixture congestion.

“But, I’m manager of Weymouth. Imagine pulling a big-wig, getting a draw and bringing them back to the Bob Lucas? It’s things dreams are made of.

“I think we’re starting to mess about too much. There needs to be other ways of supporting the big clubs.”