Further to the statement issued on 16th September, the Competitions Committee met on 22nd September to discuss the future of this season’s County Cup Competitions
COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on all of us, not only in football, but in every aspect of our lives. It has left us to come to terms with the loss of the ability to enjoy family and leisure activities we all took for granted and we are now having to adjust to different lifestyle choices, albeit for the right reasons.
The main criteria in the safe return to football for Hertfordshire FA was to support our Leagues in retaining their Clubs and to get them playing football again on a regular basis, so they got back into the habit of playing every week. Leagues have also suspended their own internal cup competitions to achieve this as well.
To assist, we made the decision to allow Clubs to decide whether or not they wished to enter County Cup Competitions by making entry voluntary for this season. We also limited youth clubs to only being able to enter one team in any competition to shorten the number of weeks required to complete all the rounds to the Final.
Despite the entries being down by 50%, we would still require between 5–7 weeks to get to the final stages of any competition, assuming we did not have any postponements, whether due to adverse weather, where players would need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or matches where the result was under review following a breach of competition rules.
In a recent survey, whilst there was support for County Cup Competitions to run, there was also concern that any delays in playing matches on the appointed day would cause concern that Leagues might struggle to complete their League fixtures.
The National Game Board requested that all Senior Clubs are “excused” mandatory entry into County Cups so that free weeks are used for League games. Therefore, there couldn’t be any arguments that League programmes could not be finished due to County Cup commitments.
We do not want to be in a position where we see Hertfordshire Clubs in the National League System (NLS) see their seasons declared “null and void” or their promotion or relegation decided by “calculation” rather than their efforts on the playing field. Nor does the Association wish to see another season where we have to see all our Competitions declared “null and void” or Leagues have to make a similar call as they were unable to complete their League programme.
We are also mindful of decisions made by the Government, Public Health England and The Football Association on limitations that may be imposed as a result of a second spike in the COVID-19 virus and the potential for both local and national lockdowns.
Therefore, reluctantly the Competitions Committee has made the decision to suspend all Hertfordshire FA County Cup Competitions for the 2020-21 Season.
This was not an easy decision to come to and we realise that this will not please everybody. However, we do believe that this is in the best interests of football in Hertfordshire, to provide the optimum availability of dates and, therefore, the best opportunity for all Leagues’ to complete this season.
It should be understood that the Association is fully supportive of running County Cup Competitions in the future and it is both our hope and aim to reintroduce them in Season 2021-22. To this end the Competitions Committee will be planning for 2021-22 season and will take the opportunity to undertake a review of the Competition rules and structures in readiness for next season.
Graham Phillips - Chairman, Hertfordshire Football Association
Tony Butler - Chairman, Competitions Committee
23rd September 2020