Football Federation Australia (FFA) today announced that any team who wins the FFA Cup from 2021 will be granted entry to one of the AFC Champions League preliminary round slots among key changes to Australia’s largest annual club-based sporting competition.
After Covid-19 halted proceedings this year, the FFA Cup will return in 2021 with adjustments made to improve and enhance the excitement associated with the competition, particularly as clubs from all levels have the chance to make their mark against Asia’s best.
Here are all the details for the 2021 FFA Cup:
- Preliminary Rounds to be held between February and July next year, with the Final Rounds planned to be played between July and November – match details to be confirmed.
- FFA Cup Semi-Finals & Final earmarked to be on stand-alone weekends for the first time. Final to be played at neutral venue.
- FFA Cup Final Rounds will feature an open draw for the first time – generating more competitive tension and uncertainty.
- FFA Cup 2021 winner to be awarded a preliminary round slot representing Australia in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League*.
- FFA Cup Final Rounds Slot Allocation for A-League clubs and Member Federations to remain unchanged.
- FFA Cup Final Rounds Play-Off matches between the bottom four (4) placed A-League clubs from the A-League 2020/21 season will be played to determine the final two (2) A-League teams to enter the Round of 32.
- Wollongong Wolves (NPL 2019 Champions) will be granted entry into the FFA Cup 2021 Final Rounds. Wollongong missed out in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Principle IV of our XI Principles speaks to the ongoing optimisation of Australia’s competition structures and ensuring that Australia’s football pyramid is aligned and connected,” FFA Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said.
“The FFA Cup is unique amongst all other sporting competitions in Australia in that a team of builders, electricians and office-workers might get the chance to compete against five-time A-League Champions Sydney FC.
“These changes to the FFA Cup from 2021 onwards demonstrate FFA’s commitment to not only enhancing the FFA Cup for the enjoyment of our football community, but to provide players and clubs at all levels of the game with the opportunity to aspire to represent Australia on the global stage.
“Playing the FFA Cup Final on a stand-alone weekend will enable the FFA Cup Final to develop its own identity within the national football calendar, and we envisage that an array of events – such as a national football conference or a national football weekend festival – can in the future be held in parallel with the FFA Cup Final.
“Furthermore, we believe that by connecting the FFA Cup Final with a variety of supporting football-focused events, we can engage a wide cross-section of the football community and make the event an increasingly attractive proposition to host cities and Governments.”
765 clubs had registered for the 2020 version of the FFA Cup and Johnson is confident these clubs will return.
“Next year’s FFA Cup Preliminary Rounds will be held much like in years gone by, however we are moving to adjust the structure of the Round of 32 – where professional A-League clubs enter the competition – into four geographic Zones,” he said.
“These Zones will promote local rivalries and competitive tension, and for the first time will feature an open draw to determine matches.
“The open draw will continue to feature right through to the semi-final stage, ensuring that there’s absolute uncertainty when the draw for each round of the competition is staged.”