The London FA Cup Competitions Committee met on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 to consider their plans for the conclusion of the 2020-21 London Cup Competitions.
As a result of the significant challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee agreed a reduced cup competition programme as follows:
- All London FA Adult Cup Competitions will proceed, as many of those competitions are at a more advanced stage. League or league cup fixtures should remain a priority and clubs will not be penalised for withdrawing from a London FA Cup Competition, provided they do this by 22nd March 2021.
- All London FA Youth Cup Competitions for the 2020-21 season will be curtailed, to allow youth leagues to fulfil their progammes of activity up to the end of the season.
Following a period of very careful consideration of all factors involved, the London FA Cup Competitions Committee have made the exceptionally difficult decision to reduce the cup competition programme for the remainder of the season.
This decision follows detailed consultation with both adult and youth leagues across London and also an analysis of the limited number of fixtures played across the Cup Competition programme to date. Only five of the thirteen Youth Cup Competitions have started and the feedback from youth leagues was overwhelmingly in favour of curtailing the Youth Cup Competition programme, as significant activity from those leagues has been planned up to the end of June 2021.
The feedback from adult leagues was more broadly in favour of the Adult Cup Competitions continuing, provided that clubs would not be penalised if they chose to withdraw from a London FA Cup Competition tie. All seven of the Adult Cup Competitions have started, with some at an advanced stage. London FA will work with the leagues to agree the remaining round dates as soon as possible and advises that clubs prioritise their league or league cup fixtures above a London FA Cup tie. Any club choosing to withdraw will need to do this by 22nd March 2021.
This decision has been taken to bring clarity to our clubs and leagues for the remainder of the 2020-21 season, in relation to London FA Cup Competitions. It means leagues and clubs can plan scenarios accordingly for the return to the game. We believe this approach gives an opportunity for league programmes to be concluded whilst at the same time allowing some clubs who have already started participating in our competitions to continue to compete.
Paul Bickerton, London FA CEO, explained:
“We fully recognise the experience and opportunity that the London FA Cups provide and how integral these competitions are within a normal season. We did not take this decision lightly but after extensive consultation we believe we have found the right balance between supporting leagues to complete their programmes whilst at the same time continuing with as many of our Cup Competitions as is practically possible”
“The latest national lockdown, following on from the November 2020 lockdown and the tiered restrictions across London in December 2020, has severely impacted the ability for competitions to progress. Although we do now have a short window to complete this season, pitch availability and weather will continue to provide challenges for all of us. Our collective focus continues to be on the wider landscape of grassroots football and supporting leagues and clubs to return to the game as safely as possible.
“It has been agreed that all teams entering one of our youth cup competitions next season will be able to do so free of charge. We understand that this will be of little compensation to those missing out this season but do hope it goes some way to mitigate for what is a very difficult set of circumstances.”
“We would like to wish everybody the very best of luck for the remainder of the season but recognise that, much like society, football is likely to be unpredictable for the foreseeable future. Most importantly, we hope you and your loved ones stay safe.”
Next steps: following the publication of this press release, London FA’s Cup Competitions Officer will now proceed to contact the leagues and clubs affected to agree further details, including round dates.