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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 17:49 GMT
FA Cup final rescheduled

Chelsea's Dennis Wise lifts the cup in 1997


The FA Cup is to be replaced as the final game of the English season.

The match will still be played in May but, from next year it will come before the closing games in the Premiership. Next season the final will be on May 12 - a week before the last league matches.

This will "ease the pressure" on any club still involved in European competitions, said the Football Association.


Teddy Sheringham tastes glory last year
A decision was made after weeks of talks between the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League.

Clubs and fans had complained about this season's fixture scheduling, which included bringing forward the third round of the FA Cup to before Christmas.

Crowds were down and next season round three will revert to its traditional slot in early January.

The FA said: "Our priority has been to re-establish the FA Cup in its traditional place in the football calendar and to do so for the foreseeable future.

"Replays, hugely popular with the supporters' organisations with whom we have consulted, have also been preserved."

As part of the reshuffle, the Premiership season will begin on August 19 - two weeks later than first planned.

"This is in line with everybody's wish to give players an adequate break, not least those likely to represent the England team in the World Cup qualifying campaign," added the FA.

"What the FA has achieved in conjunction with the Premier League and the Football League is a solution acceptable to all.

"On the longer term question of the football calendar of the future, supporters can be assured that the special character and traditions of the FA Cup will be maintained.

The changes follow an assurance from the FA that no team will be able opt out of the competition in the future.

Cup holders Manchester United are not defending their trophy this season because of their commitment to the World Club Championships in Brazil.

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See also:
21 Jan 00 |  FA Cup
Cup withdrawal will never happen again
Links to other FA Cup stories are at the foot of the page.