Essex FA statement on West Ham Ladies’ removal from Essex County Cup

The Essex FA has released an official statement which relates to the necessary removal of West Ham United Ladies FC from the 2014/15 Essex Women’s Cup. But Blowing Bubbles understands the Hammers will have an appeal hearing at FA headquarters in Wembley later this month.

The Essex FA statement reads: “We were first informed shortly before Christmas of a potential conflict of two County Cup ties to be played on Sunday 18th January. We spoke to the Secretary of West Ham United Ladies FC on Christmas Eve to remind him that, as it was the club’s First Team who had entered the Essex Women’s Cup, we expected the First Team to fulfil the fixture. This would mean fielding a development squad in the Capital Women’s Cup.

Whilst we had no problem with West Ham playing in two County Cups on the same day, the London FA are West Ham Ladies’ parent association so the club would need to check with London that they were also happy with this. No further information on this subject was received from West Ham.

Therefore, on 6th January this was followed-up with an E-Mail to the club as well as to Billericay Town Ladies FC (their opponents in the Essex Women’s Cup) and the three County FAs who jointly operate the Capital Women’s Cup (London FA, Amateur Football Alliance, Middlesex County FA) to seek clarification that the London FA accepted this arrangement.

It was confirmed (by the Middlesex FA) that West Ham’s First Team must compete in the Capital Women’s Cup, therefore the Essex Women’s Cup tie would need to be rescheduled. West Ham had an FA Women’s Cup tie on 11th January (when the tie would ordinarily have been brought forward), so the match was consequently rescheduled for the 25th.

West Ham’s Secretary informed us on Tuesday 13th January that the FA Women’s Premier League would not permit the club to schedule Essex Women’s Cup matches on Sundays.

We consulted with the remaining clubs in the competition on Thursday 15th January – including contacting West Ham – to gather opinions. As a result, on Monday 19th, West Ham were informed that they would sadly have to be removed from the Essex Women’s Cup. As the club were not being permitted to play on Sundays by the FA Women’s Premier League for season 2014/15, this meant they were no longer eligible to compete in the competition.

The Essex Women’s Cup is a Sunday competition and, as such, all fixtures up to and including the Semi-Finals should take place on this day. West Ham Ladies are not parented to the Essex County FA, so there is no requirement for their league to allow Essex Women’s Cup matches to take place instead of their own, and the FA Women’s Premier League have exercised this right.

The option to play the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final matches midweek was considered. However, after consultation, it was felt that it was not right for the other competing clubs to potentially have to pay the cost of hiring a ground with floodlights. Furthermore, it would be inappropriate to penalise clubs who may have had players unavailable due to work or university commitments and who are only available on a Sunday, the playing day for the competition.

No financial penalty has been imposed upon West Ham, and Quarter-Final opponents Billericay Town Ladies will now receive a walkover into the Semi-Finals. The club have the right to appeal against this decision, the terms of which have been explained.

We are fully aware that the Essex Women’s Cup is a competition West Ham Ladies have had great success in and we meet this scenario with enormous displeasure. However, it is our duty to maintain the best interests of the competition, as a whole, at all times.”

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