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Default Tranmere and Rochdale’s TV snub suggests FA Cup replays have had their day | Paul Wilson

League One pair have cause for excitement this week but the rewards may be slim – so why not ditch replays until the semis?

The FA Cup, once the competition that brought all of English football together, has become incredibly divisive. As the third-round replays get under way this coming week, it will be hard not to notice that Wolves did not actually want an extra game at Old Trafford. It will be their 38th of an already long season, it will still be only mid-January, and Nuno Espírito Santo would have been perfectly happy for the matter to have been settled on penalties at Molineux.

Traditionalists keen to hang on to the magic of the Cup will have been more encouraged by Tranmere’s performance at Watford. Not only the three-goal second-half fightback that earned them a draw, but the eagerness with which Micky Mellon embraced Tuesday’s Prenton Park replay. “It’s the sort of distraction our bank manager enjoys,” the Rovers manager said. “I’d like 10 replays.”

Related: The joy of the FA Cup: Osaze Urhoghide provides antidote to critics | Paul MacInnes

Yes, replays can be a financial lifeline to smaller clubs, but the FA Cup will never make a comeback as a charity

Related: St Andrew’s empty stands a sign of FA Cup’s fading, but not forgotten, magic | Jonathan Liew

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