FA risks Uefa fine over Cup replay date

LONDON • The Football Association is facing a big headache - and the possibility of a fine by Uefa - over the proposed scheduling of the FA Cup quarter-final replay between Manchester United and West Ham United.

An article on West Ham's website claimed that the replay at Upton Park would take place on April 6 - the same night that Manchester City play away to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

If the FA Cup match does go ahead on April 6, it would cause problems for Uefa and BT Sport, which holds the broadcasting rights for the Champions League.

Uefa rules forbid the scheduling of domestic games on the same night as European competition, but a packed schedule means that the FA has no option but to hold the match on an evening that also has Champions League football.

The second legs of the Champions League quarter-finals take place the following week, and United and West Ham have Premier League games on the Wednesday of the week after that - three days before the FA Cup semi-finals are due to take place.

Only in exceptional circumstances will Uefa permit domestic and Champions League fixtures to be played on the same night.

Three years ago, Uefa took more than £1 million (S$1.94 million) from English clubs' pot of Champions League television money for scheduling matches on the same night as European games.

Uefa could choose to take the same action, although FA sources insist that they have been talking to Uefa about the complexities of fitting FA Cup replays into the domestic schedule.

The FA is hoping to placate Uefa by scheduling the kick-off time for 7pm, but that would still clash with City's 7.45pm kick-off.

The BBC will show the FA Cup match and BT Sport has the rights to the Champions League game, so the English television audience would be split. That could be problematic for BT, which has paid £897 million for exclusive rights.

Last month, the FA escaped a financial penalty after scheduling the FA Cup fifth-round replay between Arsenal and Hull City on the same night that Wolfsburg played Gent and Real Madrid hosted Roma in the Champions League.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'FA risks Uefa fine over Cup replay date'. Print Edition | Subscribe