“They don’t really care about us” were the lyrics sung by Michael Jackson, but they also apply to the FA’s view on Non-League football. With the constant rain, comes waterlogged pitches. At the beginning of October, no one expected games to be called off because of the rain, especially when the end of September showed some promising signs. The word ‘waterlogged’ or ‘unplayable’ is often used in the winter months but at the start of Autumn, the words are out in force.
This weekend is FA Cup weekend as clubs all over the country prepare for one of the biggest games in their histories. Clubs like Hashtag United are preparing to face Step-2 Braintree Town in their debut season in the competition whilst other clubs like Warrington Rylands in the North West Counties League prepare to face up to York City. While most games will go ahead, many are having to be called off.
This season will be more compact than any season before due to COVID and the FA Cup is no different. Games in the competition are being played around every two weeks to fit them into a busy league schedule but the decision made by the Football Association this week has really put a damper on things. The FA have told clubs that should their games be called off; they will have to be arranged for either tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday ahead of the Third Qualifying Round draw. That creates a problem in itself.
The wet weather is set to stay until Wednesday when the country is expected to get a respite from the bad weather, so if games are called off on Saturday due to the rain, it is highly unlikely they will be playable after two more days of rain. The solution for the FA is simple, should games not get played by Monday, both teams will lose their place in the FA Cup. For many clubs, that is a horrible thought. The Qualifying Rounds of the World’s Oldest Cup Competition is a way of bringing funds into the club so to be kicked out for something you cannot control is extraordinary.
The good news is that ties can be switched, if it means getting them played, but that still means clubs could lose their place if neither ground is playable. The decision is clear frustrating.
Peter Dudley, a non-league writer and enthusiast, said;
Words actually fail me….FA you are a joke of an organisation.
The question though is, should a league team face the same problem, would they be kicked out of the competition? The answer is no. Of course, Premier League teams will be able to switch the tie to their highly, well maintained stadiums but that doesn’t make it fair for anyone else.
All I can say is best of luck to the groundsmen!