RYAN Sparks has criticised the decision to axe FA Cup replays – and revealed that EFL clubs knew nothing about it.

The FA and Premier League announced a new six-year agreement beginning next season that includes making every tie a one-off from the first round onwards.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch immediately announced that they will be seeking compensation on behalf of their clubs.

And City CEO Sparks has echoed his frustration at a move that he claims was “dropped on them”.

Sparks said: “We’re really disappointed on a number of levels.

“Primarily, the decision is a short-sighted one that only suits a very small percentage of the 700 plus clubs that take part.

“The fact that the decision was taken in isolation without consulting the EFL or its clubs is pretty disheartening. It tells you a little bit more about the true structure of the game.

“We would have perhaps hoped for a little bit stronger leadership from the FA to protect the pyramid that they are so proud of and is probably the best in world sport.

“And there’s also the fact the news was delivered by a press release. There was no email received, certainly at our football club, from the FA.

“If you are at least consulted and feel included in that conversation, the decision is almost less impactful. You know it’s coming.

“But it’s been dropped on us in this way and we don’t know why.

“I can only assume it probably says a bit about the relationship between the EFL and the Premier League, which needs to be stronger.”

The news follows a meeting in London a couple of weeks ago when EFL clubs were warned that a new solidarity package from the Premier League was “on the rocks”.

Sparks admitted that ending replays – removing the potential of a money-spinning second crack at one of the big boys – is just another setback.

He told the T&A: “Initially there was some conversation between the EFL and the Premier League around the calendar and the FA Cup, almost in exchange for an improved package that would have far superseded what we could have all earned in replays across the board.

“But to just to take it away and those conversations to not continue is really poor.

“This comes at a time where the Government are talking about the long-term viability of the English pyramid. The FA are supposed to uphold those values, in my view.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: EFL chief executive Trevor Birch wants compensation for clubsEFL chief executive Trevor Birch wants compensation for clubs (Image: PA)

“If financial sustainability is such a crucial element in a fan-led review and the FA are so keen to protect club assets, in terms of owners or chief executives not being able to make changes to brands, to colours, to stadiums without consultation, then surely consultation should apply to major decisions that affect supporters.

“It’s the start of diluting the FA Cup as a competition. In the longer term, you fear some of the Premier League may choose not to take part.

“The dream has been removed. For some clubs, the idea of drawing one of the big boys in the third or fourth round becomes a one night-only show.

“A replay against certain clubs could be significant money and, for someone like ourselves, game-changing. It’s money that we could put into infrastructure or secure assets with.

“The EFL needs to take stock. We are in full support of the leadership and they will act appropriately, I’m sure this has been a really dark few hours for them.”