Following very careful consideration of all factors involved, the Essex County FA Board of Directors have made the exceptionally difficult decision to conclude all of the 2019/20 season’s County Cup competitions with immediate effect. Therefore, there will be no further matches played in these competitions.
The County Cup Finals are an integral part of the football calendar each year, delivering showpiece occasions enjoyed by players, family members, spectators, coaches, match officials, club and league officials, partners and wider stakeholders across the Essex football community. The decision was extremely difficult to make. However, the following factors were amongst those considered:
* nine finals did not have two finalists, with multiple rounds still to play in some competitions
* many teams were unable to fulfil the remaining fixtures
* no spectators are currently permitted to attend
* no changing facility use is currently permitted
* due to social distancing, no pre or post-match formalities, hospitality and presentations are allowed
* there are issues regarding the registration and eligibility of players
* the 2020/21 season has already been delayed and the 2019/20 finals could, potentially, impact the 2020/21 season further
* lessening the burden on early-season 2020/21 league fixtures
* the experience, particularly for the players, teams and match officials, would be significantly impacted and not in keeping with the County Cup Final occasions we aim to provide
Consideration was given to the possibility of concluding some competitions and not others. However, the Board wanted to recognise all cups were of equal importance to all involved, so it was decided that all would be concluded in this same and regrettable manner. On behalf of the Board of Directors, Chief Executive Brendan Walshe, explained: “This has been an extremely difficult decision for the Board to make.”
“It was fully recognised the experience and opportunity that County Cup Finals provide. We also recognise that this will be extremely disappointing, not only to the players and coaches of the teams involved, but the match officials, club officials, volunteers, family members, spectators and supporters who were looking forward to playing their part in these occasions.”
“The Board did not want to make a decision on this matter until more information became available. We have waited to give every possibility for the competitions to be concluded on the pitch. However, we hope people can appreciate the reasoning behind the Board’s decision. Our collective focus now turns to the 2020/21 County Cups, which the Board have taken the decision will be running to give all clubs the opportunity to participate in.”
It has also been agreed that, as a small goodwill gesture, any team who was still in an Essex County FA County Cup competition at the conclusion of the 2019/20 season will be given free entry to this season’s competitions. It is understood this will be of little compensation to the disappointment of not having a cup final to play in.
However, we hope it goes a small way to demonstrate our own disappointment at this news. We wish everybody good luck for the upcoming season but recognise that, much like society, football is likely to be unpredictable for the foreseeable future. More importantly, we hope you and your loved ones stay safe.
Information on Essex grassroots football can be found in the menus above, by following for @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook. Dialogue is taking place with Colchester United FC as a priority in order to provide refund information relating to any BBC Essex Senior Cup Final tickets purchased prior to the scheduled fixture.