Barnet Football Club

BARNET FOOTBALL CLUB

CHAIRMAN’S STATEMENT FOLLOWING CHANGES TO FA CUP REPLAYS

I DREAMT OF BARNET BEATING CHELSEA

 

In January 1994, just a few months before I bought Barnet FC, we drew with Chelsea in the FA Cup and earnt a money spinning replay at Stamford Bridge.

This money supported the Club at a difficult time and this is the main argument put forward by non league Clubs this week for the retention of replays.

 

After purchasing the Club, I remember meeting Ken Bates at Wembley for the final. As I shook his hand and thanked him for the hospitable way Chelsea had treated the Barnet contingent, he pressed a one pound coin into the palm of my hand, smiled and said “you will need that, you will need every penny you can get” and so began my journey in football…

 

Some thirty years later, whilst I recognise and appreciate the standpoint of most lower league clubs who have made strong statements opposing the abolition of FA Cup Replays announced this week by the FA, we will not be joining them in their protestations.

 

I dreamt of beating Chelsea, and on the day of the first match at Underhill, in a penalty shoot out….I think the gods would have smiled down on us.

That’s why I bought a Club; that’s why football is great, because on any given Saturday we have hope, we can win, and let’s face it…penalties is a lottery.

So we fully support this decision by the FA, because it means we have a greater chance of winning, and that’s all we want to do, win.

 

So what about the financial argument?

Well, you will have to navigate a hastily prepared, difficult replay match, sold at a discounted cost, played in a half empty stadium, during a busy midweek.

The odds are also stacked against you because second time round the Premier League team is better prepared and it becomes a much tougher ask.

 

The FA Cup journey will probably end there, whereas if there is no replay and you do win that penalty shoot out, it’s progression to another round, against another big team, in a full stadium, going for glory.

 

We are told there is greater prize money on offer for winning in the early rounds, and this will help alleviate the ever increasing issue of fixture congestion.

This remains to be seen but at least we will have an exciting climax to every match which will reinvigorate the competition. It already feels more exciting and I can’t wait for next season’s Cup draw.

You can be sure that when we do beat Chelsea, I will compensate them and give them their pound back!

 

Tony Kleanthous

 

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