Newmarket's Premier Cup riddle is solved

QUESTIONS have been raised as to why Newmarket Town played in this season LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup.They were relegated down to the First Division of the Ridgeons League at the end of last season, and it is generally accepted that only teams from the Ridgeons League Premier and above can enter the county's top cup competition.

Elvin King

QUESTIONS have been raised as to why Newmarket Town played in this season LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup.

They were relegated down to the First Division of the Ridgeons League at the end of last season, and it is generally accepted that only teams from the Ridgeons League Premier and above can enter the county's top cup competition.

But a study of the rules shows - in theory at any rate - any senior club has the option.


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Premier Cup rules state (on page 135 of the Suffolk FA handbook) that 'senior clubs with players under written contract and such other senior clubs as the council shall determine will qualify for the Premier Cup. Finalists from the previous season's Senior Cup are eligible if they desire. All senior clubs not competing in the Premier Cup qualify for the Senior Cup'.

Suffolk FA chief executive Martin Head explained: “Newmarket asked to play in the Premier Cup and as they fitted the qualifications our council accepted them.

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“The Premier Cup came into being in 1983 because a number of senior clubs were finding it difficult to compete on a level footing with clubs who had

contract players in their books.”

Newmarket went out at the first round stage - losing 2-1 at home to Leiston and perhaps wishing now they had entered the Senior Cup where they would probably have been favourites to reach the Portman Road final.

For many years the Premier Cup was regarded almost as a poor relation, but in recent seasons - since Head took over at Suffolk FA - the picture has changed dramatically.

He said: “In the past there have been only a handful of clubs competing, with the final - unlike the Senior Cup - not at Portman Road.

“Now this has changed and the Premier Cup was given a big boost when Ipswich Town decided to re-enter two seasons ago.

“This season's competition included Ipswich Town it also included two teams who are one game away from the first round proper of the FA Cup (Leiston and Bury Town), last season's FA Vase finalists (Lowestoft Town) and semi-finals (Needham Market) but also former Vase finalists AFC Sudbury.”

East Anglian-based chartered accountants and business advisers LB Group are sponsoring the Premier Cup this season.

Head added: “We look forward to a long and successful relationship with them.”

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