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.

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.”

There are also plans to change the Ryman League’s Championship Manager Cup, with similar adjustments and the first round played on August bank holiday Monday afternoon, rather than a midweek evening.