CUP football competition dates for the 2021/22 season in Wales will begin earlier than usual as clubs return to action following a year of cancelled matches.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said the first round of the Welsh Cup, which usually takes place in September, will instead be held on July 10, while the FAW Amateur Trophy will get underway on July 17. Meanwhile the Women’s Cup will begin on September 19, the FAW U16 Girls Cup on September 12 and the FAW Academy Finals on May 2.

An FAW statement said: “The decision to start earlier has been taken following guidance that has been issued in the Welsh Government Coronavirus Control Plan, which advises that spring and summer give us hope of more freedom, as rates of infection fall and more people are vaccinated.

“Therefore, the FAW is looking to maximise the playing opportunities where possible in the 2021/22 season, whilst taking into account the possible threat of further interruptions to competitions.”

It means clubs across Wales’ domestic leagues including the JD Welsh Premier League, JD Cymru North League and the tier three Ardal League can plan ahead for competitive games, with those who entered competitions last year rolled over to the new season.

Adam Roche, managing director of CPD Y Rhyl 1879, which formed last year following the collapse of Rhyl Football Club and will take part in its first ever competitive match, said: “Early notification for all clubs is a huge positive so we can all start planning as soon as possible. Clubs are run by volunteers, players and coaches have full time jobs and other commitments so we at CPD Y Rhyl 1879 think the latest announcement is the right thing.

“We are currently planning our whole 2021/22 season approach, obviously including pre-season and now that we know that competitive football will be starting early July it is highly likely that pre-season training will commence in May and friendly games thereafter.

“It will give all fans, players, coaches and club volunteers a huge much needed boost of optimism that we aren’t too far away from competitive football.”