The South West Challenge Cup is an annual pre-season football tournament, held in North Devon, England in July and hosted by various non-league clubs in the area. Twenty-four clubs have participated in the tournament since its inception. It is currently known as the Joma South West Challenge Cup under a sponsorship deal with the sportswear company Joma.
The inaugural tournament took in July 2008 and was originally sponsored by Erreà in 2008 and 2009. The first winners were Eastleigh. The current champions are Blackpool.
In the group stage matches, each half lasts 40 minutes, before reverting to the standard 45 minutes for the knockout stages. The tournament features an unconventional points system through the group stages, which the tournament organisers state is "designed to encourage attacking football".Each winning side gets the standard three points for a win.
Losing teams receive one point if they lose without scoring, and two if they lose but score.
There are no draws; if teams are all square at full-time the game goes straight to a penalty shootout to determine the winner.
This year's tournament was sponsored by Spanish sportswear company Joma, who took over from Errea as the competition sponsor. There were five host clubs – Barnstaple Town (Mill Road, Barnstaple), Bideford (Sports Ground, Bideford), Holsworthy (Upcott Field, Holsworthy), Ilfracombe Town (Marlborough Park, Ilfracombe) and Torrington (Vicarage Field, Great Torrington).
The tournament consisted of thirteen teams playing to the usual format. All of the clubs were English, apart from Scottish side Kilmarnock. For the first time, the competition featured a Premier League club, Blackpool, who were promoted having won the 2010 Football League Championship play-off Final at the end of the season.
The thirteen teams were entered into a draw for the tournament which took place on 14 June 2010. The competition started on 19 July with the final being played on 25 July.Shrewsbury Town withdrew from the competition shortly after winning their semi final. Havant & Waterlooville took their place. However, Blackpool were named tournament winners before the game which was then played as an 80-minute friendly.
The 2009 tournament took place from 13 to 19 July and was expanded to twelve sides divided into four groups. There are five host clubs – Appledore (Marshford, Appledore), Barnstaple Town (Mill Road, Barnstaple), Bideford (Sports Ground Bideford), Ilfracombe Town (Marlborough Park, Ilfracombe) and Torrington (Vicarage Field, Great Torrington.
2008 winners Eastleigh returned to defend the trophy. They were joined by five Football League sides – Championship side Blackpool; Exeter City and Wycombe Wanderers who, in the 2008–09 season, finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in League Two and won promotion to League One; fellow League One side Yeovil Town, as well as League Two outfit Grimsby Town. There were two Conference National sides – Luton Town, who finished bottom of League Two in 2008–09 and so were relegated, and Rushden & Diamonds. From North Devon, three sides – Barnstaple Town and Bideford, who took part in the 2008 tournament, were joined by Ilfracombe Town of the Western Football League Premier Division. The final entrant was Belgian lower league side, Montegnée.
The teams were divided into four groups of three with each side playing each other once in the group stage. The winners of each group then meet in the semi-finals. However, the Group A game between Exeter City and Eastleigh, and the Group C game between Wycombe Wanderers and Luton Town on 17 July were cancelled due to waterlogged pitches at Bideford and Appledore, resulting in Exeter and Luton winning their groups, as there was insufficient time to re-arrange either match, with the semi-finals the next day.
Grimsby refused to play in the final due to fixture congestion and safety concerns over a 6:00PM kick-off time, and no compromise with the tournament organisers could be reached. As a result, Belgian club Montegnée, originally knocked out in the group stages, were invited to play in the final at Grimsby's expense. Luton went on to win the 2009 South West Challenge Cup with a 3–1 victory over Montegnée.
Grimsby Town withdrew due to fixture congestion and safety issues, Montegnée were invited to take their place in the final
There were three host clubs four the tournament – Appledore (Marshford, Appledore), Barnstaple Town (Mill Road, Barnstaple) and Bideford (Sports Ground, Bideford). Eight sides entered, and played eleven matches over the course of six days. Although there were four teams in each group, each side played only two of the other sides in the group rather than all three.
The eight clubs that entered the inaugural tournament were:Crystal Palace withdrew from the competition. Their semi final place was instead taken by Torquay United.