Fears expressed for future of Sunday morning football

CONCERNS have been raised over the future of Sunday football, after the loss of one of the leading sides in the Ipswich area.

Belstead Arms, who last season won the double of the Premier Division of the DMR Ipswich Sunday Morning League and the Suffolk Sunday Cup, folded after just three matches of the new season.

Jay Mulvey, the club’s long-serving secretary, said the club had lost players at the end of last season, including skipper Marc Ransome and goalkeeper Martin Johns who both retired after injuries.

“We were victims of our own success last season. It was a struggle this season to put out a full team due to a number of factors.

“We had 20 players signed on, but some did so on the basis they would help out when needed. You need a core of players who play every week and we didn’t have that this season.”

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After fulfilling their opening three fixtures matters came to a head when not enough turned up at the Belstead Arms to play a Suffolk Sunday Cup tie at Shotley.

“I drove out there myself to tell them face-to-face we could not raise a team,” explained Mulvey, who said he fears for the future of Sunday football.

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“The finances of running a Sunday side are getting tougher. We spent over �1,000 to run the team last year, which has to be re-couped by players paying subscriptions.

“That doesn’t include the sponsorship we had for a new kit worth nearly �500 last season and Kevin Watkins, the Belstead Arms landlord, paid for our pitch hire of �250.

“On top of that there are referees to pay, kit to be washed and equipment to provide.

“It is getting harder to ask people who get paid to play at senior level on a Saturday for �5 or �6 subs on a Sunday.

“Sunday football has taken a hit in recent years. A lot of good clubs have folded in the past such as St Clements and Heathfields.

“There used to be nearly 150 teams in the Ipswich Sunday Morning League and another 50 or so in the Licensed Trades League, but now there are just over 100.”

The Licensed Trades League had just 20 teams in two divisions when it folded at the end of the 2009/10 season. The FlowSport Ipswich Sunday League currently has nine divisions with a total of 111 teams.

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