Stourbridge chairman: FA Cup qualifying is lifeblood of non-league

Stourbridge chairman Andy Pountney believes scrapping the FA Cup qualifying rounds for next season would be ‘scandalous’ – insisting it is so important for non-league clubs.

Stourbridge chairman Andy Pountney
Stourbridge chairman Andy Pountney

Reports are suggesting that if the start of the 2020/21 campaign is delayed, the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup will not take place – denying hundreds of non-league clubs below the National League vital prize money.

Southern Central Premier side Stourbridge have an impressive recent history in the competition, reaching the first round proper in six of the last 11 seasons and the third round proper in 2016/17 – and chairman Pountney believes taking that away would be a ‘disaster’.

“The FA Cup and FA Trophy should take priority and start on time, they should come first,” he said. “Talking about no FA Cup is scandalous.

“I’d rather have the FA Cup than the league.

“The FA Cup puts our town on the map, it’s phenomenal, so to lose it would be an absolute disaster. It’s a real cash cow, it excites the fans and it would be a sad day if they got rid of it for us next season.

“The memories are so important too, we’ve had some great times in the FA Cup.”

Alongside the confusion over next season, Pountney was scathing of the FA’s communication, during a time when smaller clubs are fighting for survival.

“There’s so much speculation that you don’t know what to believe, but I do think the FA have been awful,” Pountney added. “They have not given clubs like ours any direction whatsoever.

“There are grants you can apply for, but we’ve been given no advice on how to deal with contracts and wages.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the season should have been decided on points per game and we could all put it to bed.

“The balance of finances is so biased and weighted to the top clubs, we see nothing. We don’t get anything, I remember us coming second in the league one year and getting £2,500.” Further down the pyramid, Midland Premier League club Sporting Khalsa have also enjoyed some recent FA Cup success, reaching the fourth qualifying round in 2015/16.

For manager Ian Rowe the competition is their ‘lifeblood’ and losing out on that potential income would be ‘devastating’ for clubs like his.

“This is massively bad news if this is the case,” he said. “The FA Cup is the lifeblood for clubs like ours, it’s an opportunity to win some games and get some cash in, especially in the times we’re in at the moment.

“Three years ago we got to the fourth qualifying round and it generated thousands of pounds for our club.

“A lack of an opportunity to have that would be devastating.

“The FA Cup is about starting with the lower league clubs, so to take that away would be terrible.

“It would be a disaster for small clubs to lose these games and the money.”

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