With similar measures already in place at the quarter and semi final stage, it had been the FA’s intention to scrap fifth round replays in 2019/20, but that has been brought forward as the governing body continue to look for ways to ease fixture congestion.
An FA statement on Tuesday afternoon read: “The move was agreed by the Professional Game Board and has been introduced to alleviate fixture congestion, with six Premier League clubs qualifying for the knockout stages of European competitions and UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League ties and a midweek round of Premier League fixtures scheduled in latter February and March.
“This season’s fifth round will remain as originally scheduled on the weekend of 16/17 February, moving to midweek in 2019/20 – with no replays – as part of the mid-season player break agreed by The FA, Premier League and EFL in June.
“Therefore, from this season onwards, fifth round ties will be played to a finish on the day, with extra-time and penalties if necessary.”
The news will surely be a welcome boost for clubs like Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, who could find themselves stretched to the limit if they are still fighting in three different competitions.
Football league clubs battling for promotion or against relegation can often struggle to find room in their busy schedules for FA Cup replays.
With the first and second round of this season’s FA Cup already played, the competition will resume with the third round on the weekend of 5/6 January when the 44 Premier League and Championship clubs join the action.