Alternative suggestion may save Eastern Counties League

AN ALTERNATIVE suggestion which would keep the Eastern Counties League intact has been put forward in response to proposals to reorganise football at Step 5 level across the country, we can reveal today.

Proposals released by the Football Association to reduce the number of Step 5 leagues from 14 to 12 for the 2013/14 season onwards have met with opposition in some areas of the country.

The depth of feeling has been particularly strong in the Eastern Counties, where the proposal is to split the current Ridgeons League Premier Division clubs.

Seven clubs – three from Essex and four from Suffolk – would go into a new London North East Division along with clubs in the Essex Senior League.

It is proposed the remaining 14 clubs will join forces with those in the United Counties League to form a new Eastern Division.

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The seven clubs – Essex trio FC Clacton, Stanway Rovers and Wivenhoe Town plus Suffolk quartet Brantham Athletic, Felixstowe & Walton United, Hadleigh United and Woodbridge Town – met at Stanway on Friday night, and this was followed by one of four consultation meetings organised by the FA in Leicester on Sunday.

We have obtained a copy of the alternative suggestion – aimed at reducing mileage and eliminating some of the particularly onerous journeys under the FA proposals – which has been drawn up from within the Ridgeons League and has been circulated to member clubs asking for their views.

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The alternative suggestion is based on taking the 73 clubs currently allocated to the Eastern, London North East and London North West Divisions and redrawing the boundaries to form East Anglia, South Midlands and North London Divisions.

The Ridgeons League has taken a neutral stance on the FA proposals which suit some of its Step 5 clubs more than others, with Ely City, Mildenhall Town, Newmarket Town and Wisbech Town all believed to be in favour of the move.

The alternative suggestion would see the current 21 Ridgeons League Premier Division clubs form an East Anglia Division along with King’s Lynn Town from the UCL plus Takeley and Witham Town from the Essex Senior League.

Ridgeons League clubs are being asked to make their views known ahead of the league’s management committee meeting on Sunday.

If clubs are in favour of the alternative suggestion it is possible that it will be adopted by the Ridgeons League, and passed on to the FA for their consideration.

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