HomeFootballNew format mooted to boost Women’s FA Cup appeal

New format mooted to boost Women’s FA Cup appeal

New format mooted to boost Women’s FA Cup appeal

Football Association (FA) CEO Mark Bullingham has hinted at a potential revamp for the Women’s FA Cup, exploring innovative changes to enhance the entire competition’s appeal to fans, broadcasters and sponsors.

While the Women’s FA Cup final has become a marquee event hosted at Wembley, Bullingham acknowledged the need to elevate the preceding rounds. He spoke at the Leaders Week conference at Twickenham, underscoring the desire to evolve the competition’s structure to better suit its unique character, instead of merely following the format of the men’s competition.

“We’ve done a really good job of growing the final as an event. When I first started working with the FA it was an event that got less than 20,000 and wasn’t even at Wembley,” Bullingham said.

Bullingham expressed the challenge of expanding the entire competition and exploring changes that might resonate with fans, broadcasters and sponsors while maintaining its distinct identity. He emphasised the goal of accelerating the growth of women’s football, ensuring it remains on an upward trajectory.

“We’re now selling out Wembley, and that’s a big event for us in our calendar. So the final is going really well.

“Like the rest of the women’s game, we will grow it. It’s just how do we accelerate it even faster?”

The FA is reportedly close to securing a new title sponsor for the competition following the conclusion of Vitality’s agreement in July.

Bullingham firmly dismissed rumours that the FA would relinquish control of the men’s FA Cup, despite speculation that the competition’s overseas rights could be sold to the Premier League in exchange for certain alterations, such as midweek fixtures.

“We’ve all seen the rumours that we’re giving up control and things like that – absolute nonsense,” Bullingham asserted.

“It’s incredibly important to us and we will of course keep running it and growing it, just to dispel any rumours that might be around on that.”

The FA, in collaboration with the Premier League and the English Football League (EFL), is engaged in discussions regarding a ‘New Deal For Football’. These conversations encompass financial distribution, cost control and the future structure of the domestic football calendar, especially considering the schedule congestion stemming from the expansion of UEFA’s club competitions.

As part of these negotiations, the FA Cup may see changes, with the potential elimination of third- and fourth-round replays. However, Bullingham expressed optimism about the competition’s future under the new agreement.

“I think we’re getting to a really good place on that. We’re not quite finalised, but I am really confident that the FA Cup post 2024 will be even stronger than it is now – great for fans, great for broadcasters, and we’ll be in a good place.”

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