What happens if an FA Cup game ends in a draw?

  • FA Cup knockout rules have changed in recent years
  • There are replays in some rounds of the competition
  • Future plans may completely overhaul the FA Cup
Are there replays in the FA Cup?
Are there replays in the FA Cup? / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

The 2023/24 FA Cup is well underway and has already thrown up some heart-warming surprises in the early stages.

England's premier cup competition, which was formed over 150 years ago, is yet to lose its spark, with all teams vying for the trophy desperate to bring it home.

Given how fiercely competitive the FA Cup is, it's not surprising that there can often be nothing separating two sides after 90 minutes.

So, how are FA Cup ties settled if matches end in a draw?

What happens if an FA Cup game ends in a draw?

Jack Grealish
Manchester City didn't draw a single game en route to success in the 2022/23 FA Cup / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

FA Cup replays have always been an integral part of the competition, often offering lower league sides the opportunity to rack up significant funds with an away day at a top Premier League club.

Even the final of the competition used to be replayed if the game ended level. The fourth-ever showpiece in the tournament's history ended in a 1-1 draw before Royal Engineers bested the Old Etonians three days later in March 1875. The last FA Cup final to be subjected to a play came in 1993. The contest between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday was seconds away from the competition's first penalty shootout before Andy Linighan struck for the Gunners in the 119th minute.

However, the dwindling importance of the competition and increasing player workload brought on by other competitions has forced a reshuffle in recent years. In 2018, it was announced that the FA Cup would scrap replays from the fifth round proper onwards.

Any match in the competition before the fifth round proper which is level after 90 minutes is still subject to a replay at the home venue of the away team in the original fixture. If that replay is also all-square, teams will contest another 30 minutes of extra time - two halves of 15 minutes - ahead of a potential penalty shootout if no victor can be decided.

From the fifth round onwards, tied games after 90 minutes will go straight to extra-time and penalties if necessary.

What future changes will there be to the FA Cup?

There are already discussions taking place to amend the FA Cup further, with the Premier League having submitted an offer to the FA to sell the TV rights of the competition overseas from the 2024/25 season onwards.

If successful, it would lead to a major shake-up in the format of the FA Cup, with replays being scrapped altogether.

The proposition, which would almost entirely benefit the top-flight clubs, would also change the date of the FA Cup final - making it before the end of the Premier League season - and would potentially impact BBC and ITV's coverage of the competition.

Early rounds of the FA Cup could potentially be played in midweek as well to help keep weekends clear for league games.