Major changes planned for Sussex Senior Cup

CHANGES are to be made to the Sussex Senior Cup to make it more appealing to the county’s top clubs.

CHANGES are to be made to the Sussex Senior Cup to make it more appealing to the county’s top clubs.

Sussex’s Football League, Blue Square and Ryman League teams have discussed a raft of changes which are aimed at increasing crowd numbers and making clubs take it seriously as a competition they want to win.

Moves likely to be agreed are:

* Abolishing replays, instead finishing all ties at the first attempt to help avoid fixture congestion that can build up, particularly in a weather-affected season like this one.

* Regionalising early rounds into east and west areas to reduce travelling and therefore overheads, making for more derbies and more interest. This is to avoid the sort of scenario that saw Pagham travel midweek to Rye this season – a 166-mile round trip for a game watched by 35 people.

* Free entry for children as a standard at all games.

* The final to be held at Brighton’s new Amex Stadium from next season.

There’s still talk this season’s final may be delayed and become the first game played at the Amex in mid-July, but this is still being considered.

Ken Benham, chief executive of the county FA, said the ‘senior A’ clubs – all those at Ryman one level or above – had instigated the changes and other clubs were now being consulted.

Decisions would be made by the end of March.

Benham said: “The feedback is fairly positive so far. It makes sense to all parties to increase the interest levels in the competition and get it back to the levels of prestige we want it to have.”

The Rocks are all for the planned improvements.

Secretary Simon Cook said: “I think the more senior clubs will still use it as an opportunity to rest players, particularly when going for promotion or trying to avoid relegation. But anything that can be done to improve the interest will be beneficial.”

Cook said the Rocks had also been involved in talks at Ryman League level with making similar adjustments to the Championship Manager Cup – the league cup for Ryman clubs. He said: “The idea is the first round will be played next season on August bank holiday Monday afternoon, rather than a midweek evening, and other improvements are being considered.”

The Rocks’ interest in this season’s county cup ended last Wednesday at Lewes, where they lost 1-0 to a late Rooks winner.