Could Saturday only football save Ridgeons League First Division?
COULD the future of the First Division of the Ridgeons League be salvaged by playing on just Saturday afternoons.
This is a suggestion put forward by Lakenheath, who are the only club at the moment seeking to join the league next season.
League secretary Nigel Spurling expressed his genuine concern over the future of a second tier in these pages last week with the division now running with just 17 clubs – five short of its preferred level.
While a number of clubs have moved up to Step Four from the Premier Division of the Ridgeons League there has not been an influx from feeder leagues like the Kingsley Healthcare SIL to create a worrying reduction in numbers.
Lakenheath, who walloped SIL leaders Ransomes Sports in the Suffolk Senior Cup last month, are looking good in the Kershaw Cambridgeshire League.
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But they don’t have floodlights and feel they will be financially stretched if they do move up in the current situation.
Cambridge University Press were allowed in this year without yet having lights, and it is unlikely that the league will make similar concessions again with still no likelihood of the club staging regular evening football.
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Bruce Rutterford, who is a vice president of Lakenheath, says: “What would be the chances of Ridgeons League Division One games being run for say, a couple of years on Saturdays only?
“There could also be early and late season midweek evening matches.
“I’m not sure about the rules on that regarding Step Six football, but it would certainly help in our case.”
Lakenheath are in the fortunate position of owning their own ground and receiving rent etc from a tenant in the form of the Lakenheath Indoor Bowls Club.
But Bruce says the sum of money that needs to be spent to move up to the Ridgeons League is way beyond the reach of his club.
He explained: “It would cost us �40,000 for floodlights and at least �30,000 for improvements to our ground and dressing-rooms.
“This is based on what the league has informed us, with the work having to be done within 12 months.
“Is it any wonder that clubs prefer to stay where they are?
“And to actually live within their means, rather than take on large financial burdens.
“I’m sure that Lakenheath would do well in the Ridgeons League, and in fact, have more local derbies than we have now.
“And I would love to see them progress, but financially it’s just not on at this time.
“The ambition is there for many local clubs, but the finance isn’t.”
WHAT do you think? Can you see the Ridgeons League being down to one division shortly? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your views or write to Kick-Off Column, Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.