The secret rule that can help Man Utd and Tottenham avoid an FA Cup replay

Indifferent sides can get fourth round out of the way quickly


The FA Cup is set to lose a little bit more of its magic tomorrow as Manchester Utd and Tottenham have both conspired to put out weakened sides for Saturday’s tea time clash.

Both managers have made it clear their priorities lay elsewhere: Fergie wants to concentrate on the league and Champions League, ‘Arry wants to try and make his palyers look like they give a shit. It’s clear that a replay in the event of a draw would be most unwelcome.

Fortnately, referee Graham Poll has come to both side’s rescue by discovering a little-known replay-avoiding loophole:

Having studied the rulebook yesterday, I learned that it is within the regulations of the FA Cup that extra-time can be played in the first tie if clubs have mutually agreed to play the extra 30 minutes should it be necessary.

Permission is not required from the FA, just confirmation of the clubs’ agreement in writing. Then they just need to inform the referee of the agreement.

We can’t think of an instance in which this rule has been invoked (correct us if we’re wrong), but it seems like a good idea in this circumstance.

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