Northants FA cancel this season's county cup competitions
The Northants Football Association has announed it has taken the 'difficult decision' to cancel all of this season's county cup competitions.
The decision will affect all levels of football in the county, from the county cups in the youth, Sunday and Saturday leagues, right through to clubs such as Brackley Town and Kettering Town who will not compete for the annual Hillier Senior Cup.
The decision has been taken in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that saw the end of last season curtailed and has led to the start of the new campaign being delayed, but football has now started to come back to life.
Last Saturday saw the UCL season kick off, and September 19 will see the start of football action from steps two to four, involving the likes of Daventry Town, AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Corby Town.
National League North sides Brackley and Kettering are scheduled to begin their campaigns in October.
It means the fixture list for all leagues is going to be pretty congested, and the NFA has decided cancel its cup competitions 'in an effort to reduce pressure on grassroots leagues and clubs across the county'.
Northants FA chairman Tony Major said: “This was an extremely difficult decision to take.
"But following a review of how Covid-19 affected grassroots football in our county this year, and in an effort to allow more time for league fixtures to be fulfilled throughout the new season, we felt it was the right decision to not run our County Cup competitions in the 2020/21 campaign.
“Losing some of the most special dates in our grassroots football calendar will come as a disappointment to a lot of people, not least ourselves, but there were many factors we had to consider before reaching this decision; some of which are completely out of our control.
“Whilst we all hope for a smooth return to football without further disruptions, it’s important to note that our member clubs will already be affected by starting the new season later than normal, and in the current climate we cannot rule out the possibility of Covid-19 disrupting grassroots football activity again.
"There may be positive signs nationally with an overall reduction in infection and death rates, but the possibility of a local lockdown in Northamptonshire remains as we move forward, and that’s something we must be mindful of when it comes to league fixtures.
"Also, it may feel a long time ago now but fixtures were already being affected by inclement weather conditions before lockdown, which is another factor we must take into consideration and prepare for, especially as we approach the winter months.
“Under these new circumstances and regulations, it’s vitally important that our leagues are supported in every way possible as they focus on a return to regular fixtures.
"There may be uncertainty ahead, but we’re hopeful of a bright future for the game locally and we’re confident this difficult decision regarding our County Cup competitions is the right one to take.
“Finally, the patience and understanding that our members continue to show during this unique period of time is thoroughly appreciated by the board and staff at Northamptonshire FA.
"On behalf of the whole County FA, I’d like to wish you all the best for the new campaign and we look forward to reintroducing our County Cup competitions again in the 2021/22 season.”