The Football Association have revealed in an email to member clubs – seen by Football in Berkshire – that only eight clubs at step 6 of the English Football Pyramid will feature in the 2021/22 Emirates FA Cup.
The move is related to the National League System restructure taking place this summer that has seen a large number of clubs promoted to step 5 and step 4 to fill new division’s created at those levels.
According to the email, which included details of when the early draws will be released: “A draw will be conducted to determine eight of the 17 Step 6 Leagues which will be represented in the Competition. Each of those eight Step 6 Leagues will then be represented by one Club. This Club will be the highest ranked Club within that Step 6 League that was not successful in receiving upward movement to Step 5 of The FA National League System in the recent restructuring.”
The FA acknowledged that: “We accept this method would not ordinarily be used to determine entries into the Competition, we believe it to be the fairest method in the current set of exceptional circumstances, to ensure the Competition has a fair balance of Clubs across all the divisions of Step 6 of The FA National League System.”
The 2021/22 FA Cup will include 729 teams and kick-off with the Extra Preliminary Round on Saturday 7th August 2021.