Millwall manager defends FA Cup replays – and praises Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder

MILLWALL boss Gary Rowett feels the fixture burden on players needs to be eased – but he acknowledges the financial benefit FA Cup replays can give lower-league clubs.

Rowett was a player at then-Conference Burton Albion though missed the game when the Brewers drew 0-0 with a Manchester United side that included Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Wayne Rooney in a third-round tie at the Pirelli Stadium in January 2006.

Burton lost the replay 5-0, but the Old Trafford fixture was a lucrative reward for the club.

If Millwall draw with Sheffield United this Saturday, the replay will take place the midweek after their Championship trip to Sheffield Wednesday. That would mean 10 fixtures in 36 days for the Lions from this weekend until the end of February.

As their manager, Rowett led Burton to the third round twice, in 2013 and 2014, before the League Two side lost at Leicester and Bournemouth.

“When you’ve worked at a League Two club and you know you can go to a bigger team and get a replay, that can have a massive, massive impact on your future as a club,” Rowett said.

“Burton, for example, when they drew at the Pirelli and took Man United back to Old Trafford, I think the proceeds of that game almost paid for the stadium with no debt.

“It’s hard when you have replays and I think to limit the number of games we play in this country we have to do something.

“If you look at January, February, you tend not to play as many midweek games. I think you could easily take one or two games out of the festive period and mix them into that to give players more of a sensible run-in in terms of matches.

“I don’t think replays are a huge problem, but I can understand the desire to limit games in some way.”

Rowett will pit his managerial wits this weekend against Chris Wilder, whose Blades side are being lauded for their performances in the top flight after promotion last season.

It won’t be the first time the bosses will have been in direct competition.

Rowett added: “Chris is someone I’ve come across loads. I played against his Halifax team when I was playing non-league for Burton.

“When I was Burton manager he was Oxford manager so I played against him many times.

“He’s a really good guy. I remember one game I went in before the kick-off for a drink, which is very, very unusual. That’s the type of guy he is, he’s a really warm character.

“He’s done brilliantly. I’ve got nothing but respect for him and it will be good to catch up with him for a quick beer after the game I’m sure.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly