FA Cup third-round replays take place this week, with English football clubs still recovering from a hectic festive schedule and looking to concentrate on the second half of an already congested season.
Yes, the FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world, and folks are rather tetchy about messing with established traditions. However, replays are clearly an unnecessary and avoidable inconvenience in the modern calendar.
Here are some alternative—and extremely entertaining—measures of settling deadlocked FA Cup ties that do not involve 90 minutes of gruelling play on a cold Tuesday night in Preston.
If you like any of the ideas, please write to the FA immediately and demand change.
Rather than trouble everyone with a replay, why not settle the tie on the day?
Regular extra time and penalties are old hat—let's spice up/desecrate the prestigious tournament with some more interesting alternatives.
Perhaps we could bring back golden goal extra time? Or take a leaf from the book of American football, where endless 15-minute overtime segments occur until someone scores?
Even better, why not dig up the bizarre penalty method they used in the NASL?
A player starts at the 35-yard line (note: we would need to invent a 35-yard line) and has five seconds to put the ball past the goalkeeper.
It would be a pretty novel way of keeping the competition relevant.
Who says football matters have to be settled on the football field?
Everyone does? Oh, right.
Regardless, FA Cup replays should be replaced with a sports day—just imagine Charlton and Oxford taking each other on in the egg-and-spoon race.
Manchester City and Blackburn's financial disparity would definitely be levelled by a tug-of-war.
MK Dons have already stolen a club from South London: Could they steal a victory over FA Cup holders Wigan in a three-legged race?
Perhaps when the main events are over, the fathers of the players who are still living vicariously through their children could battle it out in a sack race.
According to the 2001 documentary Zoolander, all disputes in the fashion world are settled by a "walk-off."
Not the kind of walk-off that Lee Cattermole does every few games after nearly killing someone, but the kind in which rivals competitively strut their stuff down the catwalk—to be judged by David Bowie and Billy Zane.
Why not apply the same principle to tied FA Cup games? Fulham would be assured a victory over Norwich, as you can bet Dimitar Berbatov knows how to remove his underpants without taking off his trousers.
A brilliant obstacle course! A Grand Prix race! Gunge! The twins! Pat Sharp!
Admit it: The child (and regressed adult) in you would rather watch 90 minutes of Fun House than any professional football match.
It's a classic example of British nostalgia—a lot like the FA Cup itself.
As Barney from How I Met Your Mother will surely testify, laser tag is a game that separates the men from the boys.
Also, it's super fun and you get to shoot people with lasers.
So, instead of getting Macclesfield to travel to Sheffield Wednesday, make them both head to the local Quasar, turf out the kids' birthday parties and settle their FA Cup battle like men.
It's what Sepp Blatter would want.