NEWPORT County AFC manager Graham Coughlan has labelled the decision to scrap FA Cup replays as “a disaster for football”.

Replays have been abolished from the first round onwards from next season as part of a minimum six-year agreement between the Football Association and the Premier League.

The matches have long been a part of FA Cup tradition – with the first replayed final taking place in 1875 – and have in some cases been highly lucrative for lower-league clubs.

County famously had a trip to Wembley to take on Tottenham after drawing with the Premier League side at Rodney Parade in 2018.

The following season they beat Wrexham in a replay before beating Leicester City in round three.

That was followed by a replay success against Middlesbrough that earned the famous tie against Manchester City in Newport.

In the current campaign they earned a £30,000 broadcast fee for the live coverage of their round-two replay at Barnet, then had the pressure, excitement and profile of taking on Eastleigh for the right to host Manchester United.

South Wales Argus: County stalwart Scot Bennett in the FA Cup replay against Tottenham at WembleyCounty stalwart Scot Bennett in the FA Cup replay against Tottenham at Wembley (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“It’s a bit of a disaster for football, disaster for the EFL, for all the clubs, for all the fans,” said boss Coughlan.

“It shows the divide between those who have and those who have not. The ones that count in football and the ones who don’t.

“I question the decision-making process in football, I question who is making the decisions.

“Are they wearing shirt and ties? Probably. Have they ever played the game? No. Have they ever stood on terraces? I would not have thought so.

“It’s a shocking decision for football, the romance of the FA cup and for all lower league clubs and EFL clubs. It’s driven by the big four, whoever they may be each season, making the Champions League.”

South Wales Argus: County boss Graham Coughlan with Erik ten Hag before the Manchester United FA Cup tieCounty boss Graham Coughlan with Erik ten Hag before the Manchester United FA Cup tie (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

County will play 57 games this season after 11 fixtures in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy to go along with their League Two campaign.

However, the Premier League sides, with their big budgets and squads, are keen to make space in the calendar due to the expansion of European competitions.

They have got their way, sparking plenty of anger in the EFL.

“I think we all know where we stand in the pyramid,” said Coughlan.

“It’s vital the lower league club have an income stream an extra source of revenue. Taking that away robbing that from them is not good is not healthy.

“Again, I question the decision-making process, the democracy of it. At least speak to us, seek our opinions. At least seek views of proper football people, but this is common in the game.”