Fifty football clubs asked if they want Champions League-style cups to save season

Cup competitions are set to save the football season from being completely lost for many of our local Sussex teams.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 5:26 pm
Storrington and Selsey are among the 50 SCFL clubs asked if they want to enter the league's end-of-season cup competitions / Picture: Chris Hatton
Storrington and Selsey are among the 50 SCFL clubs asked if they want to enter the league's end-of-season cup competitions / Picture: Chris Hatton

The Southern Combination League is giving all 50 of its clubs – including the likes of Hassocks and St Francis – a chance to play in Champions League-style tournaments to make up for the loss of the league season.

Entry is optional and clubs are being asked whether they want to take part before groups are drawn up to ensure all those participating get at least three or four matches.

The group winners will go into the knockout stages and there will be a cup and medals for the winners.

Already 12 out of 14 division two clubs have indicated they are keen on a competition for their level.

Responses from division one and the SCFL premier are still being gathered. If all or most of the 36 clubs in those two divisions want to get involved, two separate cups will be run. If numbers are smaller, they could all go into one tournament for the two divisions’ teams.

The move is in contrast to the Isthmian League, whose vice-chairman has said they do not plan a cup competition to end the season.

It follows last week’s ‘curtailment’ of the non-league season by the FA.

Southern Combination chairman Steve Nealgrove said there were still obstacles to overcome. Officials hope a limited number of fans will be allowed back to non-elite sport grounds in April – rather than mid-May, when elite sport is due to welcome back spectators – to help make their cup games viable.

Nealgrove said the league’s aim was to enable football to be played as soon as it was safely possible and by those who were keen.

“The competitions we run will be completely optional but we hope they will give clubs and players something to look forward to,” he said.

“We are hoping for news of spectators being allowed as we think these games could attract some sizeable crowds. We’ll know by the end of the week how many clubs want to play.

“As a league, we need to make sure we get clubs playing. It’s our purpose. We need to be in a position where by if clubs can play, they will.”

Clubs in the Mid Sussex League have been told their fixtures will resume on April 3. And West Sussex League sides are being asked this view for their views on a potential restart.