Irish Cup entry hit by COVID-19

Irish Football Association officials have confirmed a reduced entry list of 32 clubs for this season’s Irish Cup due to the “ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Monday, 9th November 2020, 4:11 pm
Updated Monday, 9th November 2020, 4:53 pm
Glentoran celebrate last season's Irish Cup triumph. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

The Irish Cup will kick off on Saturday, January 9 with 24 senior clubs covering the NIFL Premiership and Championship - plus the four semi-finalists from the 2019/20 campaign’s Intermediate Cup.

The remaining four spots will be taken up based on a points-per-game ranking system across last season’s league pyramid.

Clubs unable to participate this season will receive a full entry refund.

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“Only 32 clubs will compete for this season’s Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup,” confirmed the Irish Football Association statement. “The decision to reduce the number of participating clubs has been taken by the association’s Irish FA Challenge Cup Committee.

“The committee said it had assessed the ‘ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the early rounds of the Irish Challenge Cup’ and unanimously decided to reduce the number of participants in the 2020-21 competition to 32 clubs.

“The competition will now get under way on Saturday 9 January 2021 and involve the 24 senior clubs of the NIFL Premiership and Championship along with the four semi-finalists of the McComb’s Coach Travel Intermediate Cup from season 2019-20.

“The remaining four places will go to the next four teams ranked highest in last season’s league pyramid based on points per game.

“Last season the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup attracted 130 teams, made up of senior clubs and intermediate clubs, however the committee said today’s decision to reduce the number of participating clubs this season was ‘in the best interests of the competition and with the current social and health situation in mind’.

“It also said it hoped to return to the traditional cup format in the 2021-22 season.

“The traditional format sees intermediate sides compete in four rounds before being joined by the 24 senior clubs in the last 32 (fifth round).

“Clubs not able to enter the competition this season will receive a full refund of their entry fee.”