Women's FA Cup to return on March 31 after lockdown pause

The competition was halted as it was considered "non-elite" at the early stages, with clubs from the top two divisions only entering in the fourth round.

Manchester City's Steph Houghton and team-mates celebrate winning the Women's FA Cup Final in November 2020.   -  FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS

The women's FA Cup will resume on March 31, the Football Association said on Thursday, after the competition was suspended in January as Britain went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The competition was halted as it was considered "non-elite" at the early stages, with clubs from the top two divisions only entering in the fourth round.

The FA's women's professional game director Kelly Simmons had previously said that tossing a coin to decide second and third round ties "might be the only way" to complete the tournament.

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However, that outcome has been avoided and the only remaining first-round tie will be played on March 31.

The second round games will kick off on April 4, while the draw for the third and fourth rounds has been made to help clubs plan ahead for the weekends of April 11 and 18 respectively.

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Holders Manchester City will face Aston Villa at home in the fourth round, while Manchester United face a trip to Burnley.

Following the fifth round, up to three rounds, including the final, can be completed next season, the FA said, following talks with FIFA.