UPDATE 18 MAY 2011 – It has been announced that the Intermediate Cup and the Senior and Junior Vase will continue for the coming season. The article below was written when the London & South East Competitions Committee thought that they would not continue.
The draft structured season for 2011/12 has been issued (Structured Season 2011 12v2) and as expected there are no RFU Cup competitions. Clubs playing at level 6 and above (six clubs in Eastern Counties) were already without such competitions and with 14 and 16 team leagues this is sensible. Now this has been extended to the rest of the game. Please note that this is a DRAFT structured season and it may change so don’t assume all the playing dates are set in stone.
The rationale for losing the national competitions was that they were becoming less and less popular with an increasing proportion of games being called off (about one in five). Prize money was withdrawn a couple of years ago although I don’t believe this was a major factor as there were long-distance travel allowances available. The biggest issue was that even without call-offs, 75% of the teams taking part were out of the competition after the second round and they may not have even had a home game!
So, for most Eastern Counties clubs there are three blank Saturdays before Christmas and three after, four if you include Easter weekend. What should we do with them? Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk each have their own sub-county cups and there is usually a struggle to get them completed before the end of the season, so the extra Saturdays should mean they are done in good time.
This may be an opportunity to resurrect the Eastern Counties Cup in one form or another. Most recently it has been a competition for the winners of the sub-county cups plus the current holder, but matches were called off so regularly that it hasn’t been run for the past couple of seasons.
Going back further, the top eight teams in the leagues were invited to take part in the Eastern Counties Cup. There would be time to play the competition in the spare Saturdays but it would not be much help to the other 42 Eastern Counties clubs. However, it could be extended with the top eight sides playing for the Cup, the next 16 clubs playing for a Plate, and the remaining clubs competing for a Shield.
These are just a couple of ideas and you may have some of your own as to what do do with the spare Saturdays, or maybe you think we should leave things as they are and just play leagues games and the sub-county cups. Leave a comment with your opinion, and take part in the survey below.