Chelsea comeback against Manchester United causes fixture headache for the FA

Finding space for Stamford Bridge replay will prove difficult

The Football Association is not expected to make a decision on the FA Cup quarter-final replay between Manchester United and Chelsea until later this week.

The date for the replay is likely to hinge on Chelsea's Europa League encounter with Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

If Rafael Benitez's men lose, the replay is set to be played during the first week of April, even though UEFA prefers major countries not to arrange domestic fixtures at the same time as their competitions.

If Chelsea are able to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit, then a fixture pile-up would cause a real headache.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said after yesterday's 2-2 draw at Old Trafford: "I don't know when the replay will be played, probably May!"

Chelsea would need to play a Europa League quarter-final in the two midweeks immediately prior to the confirmed FA Cup semi-final dates of April 13 and 14.

The preceding international break rules out United heading to Chelsea for the right to play Manchester City in the last four any earlier, and it is viewed as impractical to cancel Premier League fixtures due to be played this weekend.

It would leave the FA either asking for matches on Easter weekend - United visit Sunderland and Chelsea head to Southampton, both for TV fixtures - to be postponed, or those on the following weekend, which would include the Manchester derby.

The FA might be loathe to do that, though, because it merely stacks up a problem for later in the season, with matches from this weekend and those due to be played when the semi-finals take place already needing to be re-arranged.

That would force Chelsea into slotting in the replay at the start of a midweek that also involves a European commitment.

Even that is not straightforward as Fulham are due to entertain QPR on Easter Monday, April 1, and local police are unlikely to sanction a cup tie on the same day.

The following Monday is when United are set to entertain City, although that fixture was set to be brought forward to the previous Saturday had Ferguson's men made it past Real Madrid in the Champions League.

An additional complication is whether Chelsea get drawn to play at home first, or away in the Europa League draw when it is made on Friday.

:: Chelsea's potential upcoming fixtures are as follows:

March 14 (h) v Steaua Bucharest (Europa League)

March 17 (h) v West Ham (Premier League)

March 18-27 international break

March 31 (a) v Southampton (Premier League)

April 4 (TBC) Europa League quarter-final first leg.

April 6/7 (h) v Sunderland (Premier League)

April 11 (TBC) Europa League quarter-final second leg.

April 13 & 14 FA Cup semi-final weekend.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms