Stourbridge chief: Cup cash cuts are a real body blow
Stourbridge vice-chairman Andy Bullingham has expressed his disappointment in the governing bodies after it was announced the FA Cup prize fund would be reduced.
The Football Association revealed that the early rounds of the FA Cup would start on September 1 as the sport attempts to return for the 2020/21 season.
The draws for the extra preliminary and preliminary rounds will be made on August 18 as the schedule starts to take shape.
However, the FA have announced that after two years of ‘record’ prize funds, the money on offer is to return to the level it was in in the 2017/18 season due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stourbridge – who reached the first round proper in 2009, made the second round on four occasions in the years that followed and then the third round in 2017 – rely on the cash it generates.
“The FA Cup has proven to be the backbone for us. Because of our success in it, it’s helped fund the continued development of the club,” Bullingham said.
“It has allowed us to survive when other non-league clubs have found it really difficult.
“It’s put money in the pot and year on year we’ve taken it more seriously. It’s an important part of what we do.
“When we sit and work out the budgets in pre-season, the FA Cup prize money sits in there, it’s that significant to us.
“We’re in a really difficult time, a really uncertain economy and we don’t know what sponsorship we will get in this year.
“If the prize fund is reduced, and it’s much harder to raise money without replays, it will make a material difference to a lot of clubs.
“Many clubs rely on that money to give them a shot in the arm at the beginning of the season.
“We felt last year they made great strides with an improved prize fund.
“For such a wealthy organisation like the FA, it’s disappointing that they can’t find a way of subsidising that to support grassroots football.
“That’s what it’s all about, the grassroots, and they’re making it really hard at a hard time.”
Alongside a reduced pot, there will be no replays in the qualifying stage of the competition, which could further impact clubs financially.
“Imagine the days when we had Northampton down here, and Stevenage to name a few,” Bullingham added.
“We drew with Plymouth away, brought them back here and beat them on TV.
“Those days are special for the community, not just in terms of financing.
“They are money spinners that are critical. It’s been our backbone.
“The FA Cup has been absolutely critical to our success and the survival of the club.”
Meanwhile, the FA has insisted they are ‘exploring options’ to see the 2019/20 FA Trophy and FA Vase competitions completed if ‘it is feasible to do so’.
Halesowen Town are in the Trophy semi-final against Concord Rangers, who are two steps above them in the non-league pyramid, with the teams due to play a two-legged tie.