Ridgeons League hoping FA will ‘relax’ joining rules

THE Ridgeons League is going to ask the Football Association to ‘relax’ their rules on promotion to allow the league’s First Division to remain viable.

This was decided at a meeting of all member clubs held on Monday that was called after doubts were raised over the future of a division that is down to 17 clubs.

It was also agreed to consider at this summer’s league annual general meeting a proposal to reduce the Premier Division from 22 to 20 clubs, which would lead to more numbers in the lower flight.

A call to allow reserve teams into Division One for next season was soundly defeated.

League secretary Nigel Spurling said: “I was delighted to see how much clubs cared and how they all wanted to improve the situation to maintain the strengths of our league.

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“We will be asking the FA if we can invite clubs who have facilities but do not finish in promotion places in our feeder leagues to join us for the 2012/13 campaign.

“There is no guarantee this ‘relaxation’ of the rules will happen, but I am hopeful.”

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There are four or five clubs who would benefit from this including Framlingham Town from Suffolk who are members of the Senior Division of the Kingsley Healthcare SIL and have floodlights and meet the off-field requirements.

Four teams have applied to join the Ridgeons League next season, but have still to meet the requirements – Lakenheath and Chatteris from the Kershaw Cambridge League, Brightlingsea from the Border League plus one other that wants to stay anonymous.

If the FA give the go ahead this would solve the problem with the Ridgeons League suffering from clubs moving up to the Ryman League in recent years without being able to recruit newcomers from step 7 football.

On the second proposal, Spurling added: “Clubs that do well in cup competitions are having their title hopes hindered because of the number of games they have to play in our Premier Division.

“We are looking into reducing numbers down to 20 over one or two seasons, and this will help our lower tier.

“As far as reserve teams are concerned there is a wide gap between some first teams and reserve sides in our area and we will be looking into the possibility of forming a Premier Division-type reserve division within our set-up in the not too distant future.

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