FFA Cup a no-go for Griffith, Riverina clubs

Football

IT'S being hailed as the competition that will bring football in Australia together at last - but Griffith won't be a part of it.

The inaugural FFA Cup, which will be officially launched today in Sydney, will not include any teams from Griffith or the Riverina this year, despite howls of protest from the GDFA.

Entries for the Football NSW Waratah Cup - the NSW feeder competition for the new FFA Cup - closed on Friday and only one regional team, the Western NSW Mariners, submitted an application to play.

This is largely due to the scheduling of nearly every round of this year's Waratah Cup on a Wednesday night, making it nigh on impossible for teams from country areas to travel to Sydney for matches.

The first two rounds of the Waratah Cup will be played on March 15 and 16, and March 22 and 23, but the midweek games beyond the second round - and a clash with the Real Juice Cup knockout in Yoogali next month - have closed the door on Griffith teams.

"We'd love to have a Griffith team in there but there's not much more we can do," GDFA president Mathew Curran told The Area News.

"It is disappointing and they aren't willing to change it. We travel for football all the time but we can't do it on a Wednesday.

"We asked them six months ago when we were ramping up into it.

"We knew that was going to be the only way to get into that bigger FFA comp but they cut us off at the hip."

Intended as Australia's answer to the English FA Cup, the FFA Cup will pit A-League clubs against semi-pro and amateur teams from state and grassroots leagues, and provides a direct competitive link between clubs of all levels.

FNSW head of football Phil Brown told The Area News the state body's hands were tied over the Waratah Cup due to ground availability and lighting concerns in Sydney.

He said playing Waratah Cup games on weekends would make for an even bigger logistical nightmare.

"We're certainly not forgetting about (regional areas) but you can't get past the midweek match at some point," Brown said.

"It's so the regular seasons, both in the NSW State Leagues and National Premier Leagues and local competitions, aren't impacted.

"If we were to section off eight or nine weekends for (Waratah) cup fixtures only, it would have a significant impact on those competitions ... and they'd have to make those games up midweek in any case."

Curran said he would continue to push Football NSW for a change next year, saying it wasn't fair Griffith couldn't be a part of what is meant to be a nationwide competition.

"As we said last year, we just can't do it," he said.

"You could handle the first couple of weekends but what happens if we were to win through? 

"We've got strong teams here and that could very well happen, and we could only play it here on a Wednesday night."

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