THE Monaro Panthers have thrown their support behind Capital Football’s overhaul of the Federation Cup tournament which will be rejigged in 2013 as an FA Cup style knock-out competition.
The Fed Cup has traditionally been held in the weeks leading up to the ACT Premier League season, guaranteeing club’s several competitive hit-outs to complete their pre-season campaigns.
This year however, the competition has been transformed into an eight-round, mid-week knockout tournament to run from April to August in conjunction with the Premier League season.
For the first time, the tournament will also be open to teams from every division of Capital Football’s senior competitions. In the past, the Fed Cup had only been open to sides from the Premier League and State League 1.
Capital Football competition’s manager Alasdair Grocock said there were a number of reasons behind the shift in formats, including the need to accommodate for a longer regular Premier League season.
“With the AIS entering the Premier League this year, we’ve had to fit more games into the regular season which means we need to start the season earlier,” he said.
“The Fed Cup used to be a preseason competition, giving teams some games to blow out the cobwebs but there’s just not the time to stage that kind of competition now with a longer Premier League draw.”
The lower ranked State League sides will begin their Federation Cup campaigns in April before Premier League clubs are seeded into the draw from the third round onward.
Teams will have until the end of March to nominate for the competition with organisers hoping for 32 State League entries to compete alongside the nine Premier League sides.
While Grocock acknowledged feedback from the Premier League clubs to the changes had been mixed, Monaro coach Frank Cachia said he for one was supportive of the concept.
“I think it’s a great idea, I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I think the knock-out format really adds to it and being a Cup game, you’re going to see a lot more upsets.
“A lot of teams are going to have the opportunity to knock teams off that they wouldn’t even usually get the chance to play against and some of those State League sides are definitely going to be keen to test themselves.”
“It does take that preseason preparation out of the picture but that’s just up to us to make sure we’re able to arrange enough competitive games before March to work out our best XI.”
The Panthers returned to pre-season training last week with Cachia confident the bulk of the club’s first-grade outfit would be back in action within the next two to three weeks.
The Premier League will kick off in the first weekend of March, one month earlier than in previous years.