Gosport, Portchester, Fareham, Baffins, Horndean and US Portsmouth reveal whether they’re keen to enter a Senior Invitational Cup after lockdown is lifted

Clubs from across the Portsmouth area have been canvassed on whether they'd be interested in taking part in a Senior Invitational Cup competition.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 12:34 pm
AFC Portchester take on Baffins Milton Rovers in a Wessex League game in December. There won't be a repeat in the Invitational Cup after lockdown as Baffins won't be entering. Pic: Martyn White.

The Hampshire FA have contacted all teams from the county within the Wessex League and Southern League to see if they'd be willing to participate in a supplementary tournament in order to provide players with some ‘competitive’ action once lockdown restrictions on team sports are lifted.

Steps 3-6 of the football pyramid were curtailed last month amid the pandemic, with no games in the Wessex League since mid-December and no Southern League matches since the first week of November.

Following the curtailment, the Hampshire FA are keen to run a competition for clubs to get back playing in the period between April/May and the usual late June/early July pre-season return.

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The News contacted managers from clubs in our area - Gosport Borough, Fareham, Horndean, Baffins Milton Rovers, AFC Portchester and US Portsmouth - to see where they stand on the idea.

Here's what they had to say on a potential Hampshire Senior Invitational Cup being rolled out:

Fareham boss Pete Stiles

‘We would be interested as long as it doesn’t affect our FA Vase. Alright, we might only be in it for one more game - but if we’re not I’m not going to be playing some little cup a couple of days before a Vase game.

‘It’s providing you can have spectators in because you’ve got to pay for these officials - that money has got to come from somewhere - so you’re not going to play 10 games and get yourself in debt because someone wants a little cup.

‘We’re in favour provided you can have spectators and it doesn’t interfere with anything else we’re doing.'

AFC Portchester boss Dave Carter

‘Yeah, it’s definitely something 100 per cent that we’d be entering.'

‘It would give me a chance to look at the current squad in preparation for next season.

Gosport Borough manager Shaun Gale

‘The concern is when do you go back training? Without being awkward, I don’t want players trying to play games after maybe training for two weeks.

‘It’s whether we can get back and get enough training in because that’s how you get injuries.

‘The importance for me is how we prepare for next season but if that becomes part of it and we can then, definitely, 100 per cent we’ll get involved.

‘It might be something we use to blood a few of our younger ones as well - the under-18s and under-23s to get some senior football as well.

‘It’s something we’re interested in, definitely. We just need some more details on it and see what the response is from other people as well.'

Baffins Milton Rovers boss Shaun Wilkinson

‘Like I said before, if they start the season earlier or the Invitation Cup rolls onto next season, so you use it as a pre-season schedule, then I’m a fan for it.

‘But to start now, in April, to do it then stop and start again, I don’t see the point to be honest.

‘I think start the (2021/22) season earlier and let’s all get going again with the fans in.'

Horndean manager Michael Birmingham

‘I’ve spoke to people at Horndean and we’re still on the same thing (club would not enter). Not being funny, there’s no fans allowed in, no social bars are open and not everyone has had their jabs.

‘I understand why people want to do it, they want to play football, especially the likes of United Services who are still in the FA Vase, but we won’t be doing it.

'I understand why they’re trying to do it, to get people back in the routine of playing football, but I’d rather some of my people went out and earned some money on a Saturday working, pay their mortgage and do things with their family.

‘All of a sudden pre-season will be here and for the next 10 months they won’t be able to do that (Saturday working and family time).'

US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull

‘We’ve canvassed the players and they’re all desperate to play.

‘But we would have to fit any cup games around the Vase and Wessex League Cup (semi-final) matches.

‘If it’s a World Cup style format, we’d have an additional three games - that’s fine.’