Gary Lineker's radical FA Cup replay solution that would impact Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham

Match of the Day host Gary Lineker discusses the FA Cup controversy
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker has discussed the FA Cup controversy -Credit:Rest is Football

Match of the Day host Gary Lineker has put forward two radical FA Cup replay solutions that would affect Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur as he calls on the FA to consider the financial implications for lower league clubs.

The FA's announcement on Thursday to eliminate FA Cup replays from the first round onwards, in a move coordinated with the Premier League to alleviate fixture congestion amid the expansion of UEFA competitions next season, has drawn criticism from EFL and non-league clubs concerned about losing a crucial source of income. The FA has since released a statement which claims that lower league clubs will not miss out on funds.

On The Rest is Football podcast, Lineker acknowledged the importance of replays for smaller clubs but also expressed his preference for their removal, citing the need to reduce the number of games players face. He said: "I am not a fan of replays.

"I understand their significance, particularly to the smaller clubs, the lower league clubs, I totally get that and the possible finance of a replay that they may get. I know it doesn't happen very often but it is the case."

He added his concerns about player welfare and the increasing demands of the football calendar: "I do worry about the amount of games that footballers play so the fewer fixtures the better in that sense. Plus of course, you have the Champions League which will have more games next season.

"But it is not really about the top clubs, it is about the smaller clubs. If they have taken the replay away, I think they need to find a way of recompensing the lower clubs in another way.

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"If it is to give them all the revenue of wherever they are drawn or the lower team, wherever they are in the football pyramid, gets the home tie but I would understand if players [did not want that because they] want to play at Old Trafford, play at Anfield, Stamford Bridge and all the big grounds. My thoughts are pretty mixed."

Micah Richards, a former Manchester City defender, expressed the concern that football was now becoming too elitist. He added: "You are damned if you do, damned if you don't. I think it is becoming very elitist and this is what I don't like.

"I think the format is great. You said that the revenue is important to these lower clubs. It is already harder for the lower end of the Premier League clubs to challenge at the top end of the elite and now it feels to me like they [lower league clubs] are getting forgotten about and that's the bit that doesn't sit well with me."

Chelsea will be competing in the FA Cup this weekend when they travel to Wembley on Saturday teatime to face City.