As Bradford City attempt to find a way around the requirement forcing them to play their FA Cup quarter-final replay two days after a league match, their co-chairman admitted he did not expect any help from either the FA or their opponents.
A Uefa decree has meant that FA Cup games cannot be staged in competition with Champions or Europa League fixtures. The FA has therefore allocated Monday, 16 March for the replay between Bradford and Reading – a match that is worth £1.2m to the League One side.
On the Saturday, Bradford are due to play at Notts County while Reading are at Watford. Both teams will have played on Tuesday, 10 March – Reading at home to Brighton while Bradford travel to Coventry.
The Saturday games could be brought forward to Friday, although Watford would be reluctant since Reading are likely to field a weakened side at Vicarage Road. Notts County, uncomfortably close to the League One relegation zone, are said to feel the same.
“I don’t think they are going to move it,” said the Bradford co-chairman, Mark Lawn, after Saturday’s goalless draw.
“I can understand where Manchester United are coming from when they complain about fixture backlog. You would think they [the FA] would try to help out a little bit.
“Notts County obviously don’t want to shift the game because they think we will play a weakened side. I can tell you now that we don’t do that in league games.
“We will ask Notts County but I wouldn’t hold my breath. To be quite honest, I would probably do the same myself. I can’t see them doing it unless there is some kind of monetary reward for them.”
Not since Wycombe in 2001 has a team from the third tier reached the FA Cup semi-finals and their run produced nothing as dramatic as the Yorkshire side’s victories over Chelsea and Sunderland.
However, although the sometimes brutal goalless draw, dubbed: “The Battle of Valley Parade” on Reading’s Facebook page, ensured Bradford remained in the competition, the advantage has swung to Reading.
Nevertheless, the Bradford manager, Phil Parkinson, pointed out that they had won at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round and the pressure would be on Reading to open up at the Madejski Stadium, something they had too much discipline to do at Valley Parade.
Unless something changes these are two sides who will be playing not only the game of their lives but their third match in a week. Tiredness and unforced errors may be the decisive factor.
“You saw this game meant as much to Reading as it did to Bradford,” said Parkinson, who spent the bulk of his playing career in Reading’s midfield.
“For both of us this is a huge prize and a history-making game and to have to play it so quickly is frustrating. I told the chairman if we could ask Notts County to move the game and, from what I’m hearing, they’ve said no. But we’ll go back to them to give ourselves every chance of reaching Wembley.”
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