Football Federation Australia have launched the FFA Cup, a knock-out competition where state league sides will get to take on A-League teams.
A-League teams had better watch out, Paul Reid says, with the former Sydney FC player predicting huge upsets by state league sides who’ll be relishing the chance to humble them in the FFA Cup.
Football Federation Australia on Monday launched the inaugural FFA Cup, modelled on England’s FA Cup, which kicks off in late July with the final to be played on December 16.
Over 600 teams from eight state and territory federations across the country will battle it out for 22 spots in the competition where they’ll be pitted against the 10 A-League teams in the knock-out stage.
A round of 32 draw will occur in late June where four state teams will get to host A-League sides at their local grounds.
All games will be played on Tuesdays so as not to clash with A-League or Asian Champions League matches.
Former Adelaide and Melbourne Heart midfielder Reid, who now plays for NSW Premier Leagues side Rockdale City Suns, says this will give the state teams a huge advantage.
“To bring an A-League team to Rockdale, I don’t think they’d fancy that on a Tuesday night,” he said.
“That will be a real leveller and you can bet there’s going to be upsets.”
State league teams will get a real shot at claiming the trophy, which was unveiled by FFA boss David Gallop on Monday, with the draw ensuring a minimum of one non-professional side reaches the semi-finals.
But Reid feels an even bigger incentive will be for young talented players in the state leagues to showcase their skills.
Reid, who admitted he is looking forward to possibly coming up against his former clubs, said it would also be a chance for some of the country’s young footballers to face their heroes like Sydney skipper Alessandro Del Piero or fellow World Cup finalist William Gallas of Perth.
“I don’t think people give the state leagues credit,” Reid said.
“There are players who are so talented in the state leagues who don’t get seen and they’ll be hungry to show what they can do on a big stage.
“They may do so well they end up getting an A-League contract out of it.”
Gallop admitted the competition will be a “seven figure exercise” for the FFA who have committed to covering travel expenses for the away sides.
But Gallop said the governing body had secured sponsors who’ll take some of the sting out of the bill.
“We’ve got it to a point where it’s affordable,” he said.
“The holy grail for football is making a connection between the grass roots and the professional level and there’s no better way to do that than to create a Cup knock-out competition like this.
“We see it as a very important investment for the game’s future.”
Gallop said a promotion and relegation system and expansion of the A-League were still some years away but the FFA Cup was an important step in making them viable.
Sides from Queensland, NSW, Northern NSW, Victoria, ACT, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia will all be participating in this year’s competition with Northern Territory to join in the 2015 edition.