Arsene Wenger: FA Cup 'tradition' of replays should not be scrapped
Arsene Wenger has come out against a proposal to scrap FA Cup replays, saying the tradition of the world's oldest knockout competition should be respected.
Wenger will manage his 100th game in the FA Cup when Arsenal take on Hull at home in the fifth round on Saturday and has won it six times in his 20-year spell at the club -- including the last two seasons.
The FA and Premier League are looking at the possibility of making the FA Cup a midweek competition with no replays, but the Frenchman said he wants the rules to remain the same.
"I have become very conservatively English. I'm a bit nervous about changing the rules, because I like them now," Wenger said in his Friday news conference. "This is the most traditional competition in England. Let's respect it and keep it like it is."
The main reason for scrapping replays would be to ease the fixture congestion on clubs during the second half of the season, when the biggest teams may be competing for three trophies at once. But Wenger believes that all English clubs will be able to afford to have deeper squads next year because of a new lucrative TV deal, meaning they should be able to cope with playing more games.
"It looks like we get always more money and we want to play less games, that's a bit of a contradiction. Next season you have even more money coming in, that means at every single club you'll have 25 top level players," Wenger said. "I'm convinced that all the clubs can compete with the number of games you have to play and there's no real need to change the rules."
Wenger has often spoken of his love of the FA Cup, and the milestone of reaching 100 games had him reminiscing back to his childhood and his first experience of the competition.
"I believe the first game I saw on television was an FA Cup game," Wenger said. "We had no television and had to go to school, where we had a black and white screen, and we were allowed to watch the FA Cup final. At that time I never imagined I would play 100 FA Cup games. It's a privilege because 100 is quite a big number and we have done well in the FA Cup most of the time, so I want to defend my record tomorrow."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.