The Football Association has confirmed today that the Women’s FA cup will be paused until lockdown restrictions are lifted in England. Arsenal Women have yet to enter the competition- WSL clubs enter at the 4th round of the competition at the end of January. However, a number of ties from the 2nd and 3rd rounds cannot currently be played as women’s football below the top two tiers is not considered ‘elite’ and therefore, teams at that level are unable to compete or train.
In a statement on their website, the FA said “We can today confirm that, following the latest national lockdown enforced by the government, the 2020-21 Vitality Women’s FA Cup will not resume during this period and will remain on pause. With all sport across the country outside of the elite level currently shut down, the competition is not in a position where the second and third rounds can be played, with clubs currently in the competition not permitted to train or play due to being at amateur level.
“Whilst it would have been possible to play elite-versus-non-elite fixtures under elite criteria with Government support, as seen in the Emirates FA Cup, fixtures involving all non-elite teams do not meet elite criteria and cannot currently go ahead. Therefore, the competition will remain paused during the current lockdown, with a number of options currently being explored on how best to complete it.”
The 2019-20 FA Cup was completed at the beginning of the 2020-21 season and that might have to be an option for this year’s competition. The FA had suggested that they might be forced to decide 2nd and 3rd round by drawing lots or the toss of a coin, a suggestion that drew widespread criticism. In lieu of such a solution, postponement was probably the only way forward.
The postponement also opens up some free weekends for WSL clubs to fulfill postponed league fixtures. Arsenal’s match away at Aston Villa, scheduled for last weekend, could now slot into one of the FA Cup weekend dates.