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FFA Cup a huge incentive for state teams

By AAP .
24 February 2014 06:46PM EST

A-LEAGUE teams had better watch out, Paul Reid says, with the former Sydney FC player predicting huge upsets by state league sides who'll be relishing the chance to humble them in the FFA Cup.

Football Federation Australia on Monday launched the inaugural FFA Cup, modelled on England's FA Cup, which kicks off in late July with the final to be played on December 16.

Over 600 teams from eight state and territory federations across the country will battle it out for 22 spots in the competition where they'll be pitted against the 10 A-League teams in the knock-out stage.

A round of 32 draw will occur in late June where four state teams will get to host A-League sides at their local grounds.

All games will be played on Tuesdays so as not to clash with A-League or Asian Champions League matches.

Former Adelaide and Melbourne Heart midfielder Reid, who now plays for NSW Premier Leagues side Rockdale City Suns, says this will give the state teams a huge advantage.

"To bring an A-League team to Rockdale, I don't think they'd fancy that on a Tuesday night," he said.

"That will be a real leveller and you can bet there's going to be upsets."

State league teams will get a real shot at claiming the trophy, which was unveiled by FFA boss David Gallop on Monday, with the draw ensuring a minimum of one non-professional side reaches the semi-finals.

But Reid feels an even bigger incentive will be for young talented players in the state leagues to showcase their skills.

Reid, who admitted he is looking forward to possibly coming up against his former clubs, said it would also be a chance for some of the country's young footballers to face their heroes like Sydney skipper Alessandro Del Piero or fellow World Cup finalist William Gallas of Perth.

"I don't think people give the state leagues credit," Reid said.

"There are players who are so talented in the state leagues who don't get seen and they'll be hungry to show what they can do on a big stage.

"They may do so well they end up getting an A-League contract out of it."

Gallop admitted the competition will be a "seven figure exercise" for the FFA who have committed to covering travel expenses for the away sides.

But Gallop said the governing body had secured sponsors who'll take some of the sting out of the bill.

"We've got it to a point where it's affordable," he said.

"The holy grail for football is making a connection between the grass roots and the professional level and there's no better way to do that than to create a Cup knock-out competition like this.

"We see it as a very important investment for the game's future."

Gallop said a promotion and relegation system and expansion of the A-League were still some years away but the FFA Cup was an important step in making them viable.

Sides from Queensland, NSW, Northern NSW, Victoria, ACT, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia will all be participating in this year's competition with Northern Territory to join in the 2015 edition.

HOW THE FFA CUP WILL WORK

- The FFA Cup is a knock-out style competition which will comprise of 22 semi-professional or amateur state league teams and the 10 A-League sides.

- Over 600 state league clubs will battle for the 22 spots through their state and territory federations.

- A minimum of one state league side will reach the semi-finals, a minimum of three will reach the quarter-finals and a minimum of nine will reach the round of 16.

- All matches will be played on Tuesday so as not to clash with A-League or Asian Champions League games.

- The number of clubs from each federation is determined by the number of registered players in each jurisdiction. The federation who has the biggest number of players gets the most spots.

Football NSW - 7 clubs

Football Federation Victoria - 4 clubs

Football Queensland - 4 clubs

Football West - 2 clubs

Northern NSW Football - 2 clubs

Capital Football - 1 club

Football Federation SA - 1 club

Football Federation Tasmania V 1 club

*Northern Territory will participate in 2015 FFA Cup

SCHEDULE:
Round of 32:
Tuesday 29 July 2014 (4 Matches)
Tuesday 5 August 2014 (4 Matches)
Tuesday 12 August 2014 (4 Matches)
Tuesday 19 August 2014 (4 Matches)

Round of 16
Tuesday 16 September 2014 (4 Matches)
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 (4 Matches)

Quarter Finals
Tuesday 14 October 2014 (2 Matches)
Tuesday 28 October 2014 (2 Matches)

Semi Finals
Tuesday 11 November 2014 (1 Match)
Tuesday 25 November 2014 (1 Match)

Cup Final
Tuesday 16 December 2014

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