Moneyfields, US Portsmouth and AFC Portchester to take part in Hampshire Invitation Cup tournament
Moneyfields and US Portsmouth are among the 13 clubs who have given their ‘unconditional agreement’ to a Hampshire Invitational Cup.
AFC Portchester have also said they will enter - at present the only club from the top tier of the Wessex League to definitely support the competition set up for those at steps 3-6 of the non-league pyramid falling under Hampshire FA jurisdiction.
The group organising the competition met again yesterday afternoon and decided ‘that the interest that we have received from clubs is sufficient to allow the competition to go ahead even if some of it is played behind closed doors.’
The proposal is to offer a competition that comprises a group stage - or possibly stages - followed by knockout rounds.
Clubs have been told to assume that spectators won’t be permitted until at least May 17 - stage 3 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
‘However, with flexibility on kick off times, you might consider that outside hospitality is permitted after a game is finished. This would help defray some of the match costs,’ an email to the clubs stated.
Those that have given the competition their ‘unconditional agreement’ play in four tiers of the pyramid.
Hartley Wintney are the highest ranked, from the Southern League Premier South, while Moneyfields, Sholing, AFC Totton and Winchester play in Division 1 South of the Southern League.
Portchester are the sole Wessex Premier side to show interest, while USP will be joined by Wessex 1 rivals Andover Town, Folland Sports, Hythe & Dibden, Petersfield Town, Fawley AFC and Alton.
In addition, Lymington Town and New Milton Town – from the Wessex Premier and Wessex Division 1 respectively - have indicated provisional acceptance.
Previously, Gosport Borough, Bemerton Heath Harlequins, Hamble Club and Cove also ‘indicated support, though not since the spectator restrictions became known.’
The competition organisers are meeting next Monday to settle the groups so this Sunday is the final date for any clubs to confirm their entry.
US Portsmouth are the only one of the 13 clubs who have competitive fixtures in other competitions once lockdown restrictions are eased.
They are due to host Christchurch in the fourth round of the FA Vase on Saturday, April 17, and face Bemerton in the semi-finals of the Wessex League Cup on a date to be arranged, but probably after May 17 in order to allow spectators into the Victory Stadium.