Bognor will get a rare chance to host their own Sussex Senior Cup semi-final – which is likely to go a long way to quelling fans’ discontent over opponents Brighton being allowed to switch the date.
The semi between the Rocks and Brighton’s under-23s had been pencilled in for Sussex FA HQ at Lancing next Tuesday (March 5), but it was announced at the weekend it could not be played that day because the Seagulls youngsters had a game next Monday.
That irked many in the Rocks camp because it was the second successive round in which Brighton had been allowed a different date – when the feeling among many supporters is that if any other club in the competition cannot play on the pre-arranged round dates, they get thrown out of the cup.
Brighton had been allowed to delay their quarter-final with Eastbourne Town, much to the dismay of Town’s manager – who pointed out that earlier in the competition, Seaford Town had been unable to get a team together to play at Bognor on the given date and were instantly removed from the draw.
Now, though, news that the game will be played at Bognor on the new date of Tuesday, March 19 – when the Sussex FA ground at Culver Road is not available – will go some way to appeasing those in white and green.
When the March 5 game was called off Bognor fans were quick to take to the club’s messageboard and to Twitter to air their views.
One said: “Perhaps they could send us a few dates that they think they may be able to play us on.”
Another added: “The whole thing is bizarre. They’re a professional club in the Premier League – of course they can raise a team. They might not be able to field the XI that they’d like to but I’d suggest that’s their issue, not the Sussex FA’s and certainly not ours.”
A fan on the messageboard called canterburyrocks said: “This whole saga absolutely stinks. How on earth can an FA keep breaching the rules to suit a single football club in their area? Where on earth is the fairness here? Surely Bognor should now be awarded a place in the final after yet more bending of rules? Utterly unbelievable.”
Dave Robinson from the Rocks’ supporters’ club added: “The Sussex FA have totally undermined the whole competition where they have bent over backwards to accommodate Brighton. The competition has a set of rules for it. In these rules it states that the senior cup has precedence over any other fixture. This rule has been applied to every other club in Sussex, except Brighton!
“This just stinks of preferential treatment for the county big boys. Wonder why? Perhaps it’s because the Sussex FA are scared to upset Brighton.
“Why don’t Sussex FA just get the trophy engraved with Brighton FC now and end the farce?”
A Sussex FA spokesman strongly denied Brighton were treated any differently to other clubs, saying the FA always tried to find a solution if a club indicated it could not play a senior cup game on a given date.
He said if clubs alerted the county FA as soon as they knew there was a clash, competition organisers would work with both clubs to try to resolve things. He said the FA were aware of comments that Brighton were favoured but there was simply no substance to the claim.
Bognor Regis Town v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Tuesday, March 19, at Nyewood Lane, Bognor (7.45pm)
Admission: Adults £10, Under 65s £5, Under 16s £3
Season tickets not valid / Programmes £1
If a draw at 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes extra time, and then penalties if required.
Bar and canteen will be open