Earlier this season we were told the Conti Cup Final would be played on 11th March.

Alarm bells rang straightaway but as we did not know if it would affect Arsenal, there was no need to get annoyed right away.

Now that Arsenal have reached the final against Manchester City, it is time to get angry at the FA.


So what is the problem with this date?

Well, it is positioned a few days after an international window, in a slot used for FA Cup ties in the past. That doesn’t sound like much of a problem, I hear you say.

The official FIFA international dates are Monday, 26th February to Wednesday, 7th March.

This is a traditional window when international teams gather to play friendly tournaments.

This year will see teams compete in the SheBelieves Cup in the USA, the Algarve Cup in Portugal, and the Cyprus Cup in Cyprus.

A total of 28 teams are involved overall and a number of Arsenal players will be selected for the tournaments.

In general, teams fly back home on the Thursday and players can train on Friday and Saturday prior to a Sunday game.

One of the problems this year is the England team will play their third and final SheBelieves Cup game on Wednesday, 7th at 7pm in Orlando, USA.

They will fly the following day, on Thursday, 8th, from Orlando International Airport to London Gatwick.

The flight will depart in the evening from the USA and will land at 7.00am or 9.00am on Friday 9th, depending if they fly on BA or VS.

You cannot expect players to go straight to training after landing from a long-haul flight, so they will have a maximum of one training session before the final.

If you also add in jetlag, it is obvious that it is a bad idea for players to feature in a cup final if they have been involved with England, unless we want to gamble on picking up injuries.

In the meantime, it has been suggested that England could leave the Arsenal and Manchester City players at home during the tournament, but that would undermine the new manager, as he (and it will be a he) would certainly like to have his full squad available for his first player gathering.

It is also important to note that players cannot refuse an international call-up under FIFA regulations as they would leave themselves open to a suspension from their club games.

So let’s have a look at the Arsenal players who could be on international duty, where they will play and how likely they are to be exhausted when they take to the pitch to face Manchester City:

Senior players

England (3 games in the USA)

Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Carter

Netherlands (4 games in Portugal)

Sari Van Veenendaal, Dominique Janssen, Danielle Van De Donk, Anna Miedema

Sweden (4 games in Portugal)

Jessica Samuelsson (currently injured)

Ireland  (training camp)

Katie McCabe, Louise QuinnScotland (2 games in Spain)  Lisa Evans, Emma Mitchell, Kim Little (currently injured)

England youth team players, who could be back-up if the club does not want to risk players:

England u20 (training camp?)

Taylor Hinds

England u19 (La Manga u19 tournament,  3 games in Spain)

Anna Filbey, Jess N’Gunga

England u18  (training camp?)

Gabriella Ravescroft, Georgia Eaton-Collins, Shannon Cooke, Grace Neville

England u17  (training camp?)

Lauren James, Lia Cataldo, Ava Kuyken

It is quite clear that with so many players involved in international games, playing a cup final two or three days after they return is a bad idea.

It is not healthy for the players and the FA should really look at changing the dates otherwise the clubs will be left with a difficult choice between the players’ health and potential trophy.