The Women’s FA Cup could potentially continue to operate during lockdown, after the government confirmed it remains in talks to try to avoid the suspension of play.
Government guidance for the current national lockdown says that only elite sport has special dispensation to continue for the next four weeks. Telegraph Sport reported on Wednesday that the first and second round of the women’s competition, due to take place on November 15 and 29, would not be able to go ahead due to all teams involved falling outside this “elite” definition.
However on Thursday night the minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Nigel Huddleston MP, said the situation had not yet been finalised.
“We are in discussions with the FA about the Women’s FA Cup to see if a solution can be found that means the competition does not need to be paused,” Huddleston said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Meanwhile in the men’s competition, all non-elite sides due to play in the first round this weekend were already given an exemption to compete from the government on Tuesday. Of the 80 teams competing in the first round, 10 are not classed as elite, but have continued to train and will compete in the competition by adhering to elite-level COVID-19 protocols.
The Telegraph Sport understands that the FA did not seek the same special dispensation for all 24 teams in the women’s competition because of differences in scheduling. The Women’s Super League clubs do not join the competition until January 31, meaning the month-long delay is less likely to affect the competition’s integrity, while there is more urgency on the men’s side as Premier League sides are added to proceedings three weeks earlier, on January 9.
Only the Women’s Super League and Championship are able to compete during the lockdown, with tiers three to seven not qualifying as elite and thus on pause until at least December 2.