Confusion over future of Banbury’s FA Cup first round match
More heartache for supporters and the club awaiting a decision on next Saturday’s fixture
New lockdown rules come into force this Thursday – two days before Banbury United are due to play in their FA Cup first round match against Canvey Island. Currently it remains unclear as to the future of this and other fixtures.
During Saturday’s news conference to announce the new lockdown measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for top-flight football to continue saying: “Yes to the Premier League”.
However, it remains unclear how grassroots and amateur sport will be affected. BBC Sport are reporting their sources as saying that is unlikely that grassroots team sport will be permitted to continue.
Nine of the 40 FA Cup first round ties due to be played this coming weekend involve teams from “non-elite” leagues, including the Puritans.
The Football Association says: “[We] are awaiting further information before we can confirm how this may affect non-elite football across England.” It is understood the FA view elite football as being everything from the Premier League down to National League North and South with everything else deemed “non elite”.
Brackley Town play in National League North and under this categorisation would be able to continue playing. Banbury United play in the Southern League Premier Division Central which falls into the “non elite” category.
Last night Banbury United tweeted: “We will of course be looking for early clarity regarding our Emirates FA Cup game against Canvey Island FC scheduled for next Saturday and await any further updates on football at our level. Stay safe everyone.”
Awaiting a decision on the future of the match will provide further heartache for Banbury United supporters. They were already coming to terms with not being able to watch the club as it sought to make history and progress to a best ever performance in the FA Cup. Fans had been given some consolation after the BBC announced the game would be streamed, providing an opportunity to see the clash.
Now the new lockdown rules add major confusion as to the future of this and other games for the Puritans.
However some feel confident the fixture should go ahead. Sports reporter Marc Webber writing on Twitter said: “It would be crazy to stop the FA Cup ties involving ‘non elite’ teams for this round if there is a doubt grassroots sport should continue in lockdown.
“All the games in the first round need to go ahead. They’ve planned for them and they are all behind closed doors anyway.”
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam