League change blow for Suffolk sides

BURY Town and AFC Sudbury have been handed shock moves into the Southern League Midland Division.

BURY Town and AFC Sudbury have been handed shock moves into the Southern League Midland Division.

The two west Suffolk clubs, who have been establishing themselves in the Ryman League North, now find themselves in a league which is predominantly based in the Midlands - and will mean greatly increased travel.

It's a kick in the teeth for both clubs, who have been major players in the Ryman League North since they moved into it two years ago.

For AFC Sudbury in particular it's an even bigger blow because, had they won promotion, which they were so close to doing, they would have stayed Ryman members, but of the Premier Division. Now they and Bury face longer trips to places like Bromsgrove and Chasetown that, according to Bury chairman Russell Ward, will cost plenty of cash.

“We are surprised, but not shocked about the move,” Ward said.

“It seems a bit hit and miss as to how the FA have arrived at this, but we will just have to get on with it.

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“We are disappointed because we feel we have established ourselves in what is a tough league and now we have to start again.

“It will certainly cost as well. I think we will be doing almost 50% more miles than before and last year coach travel was almost £6,000, so that could be about £9,000 in the season ahead.”

Another club looking forward to a new league is Wivenhoe Town. But their situation is one they are relishing. The Dragons, after their relegation from the Ryman League North last season, will play in the Ridgeons League Premier Division in 2008/09.

And manager Richard Carter couldn't be more delighted.

“It's a very positive move for us all at the club,” Carter said.

“It will be a very tough league to get out of, but we will look to stay comfortably in it the first couple of seasons.

“We wrote to the FA and asked for them to consider us for the Ridgeons League and I'm glad they listened to us.

“I feel a bit sorry for Bury and Sudbury however, their moves don't seem too good for them.”

Soham Town Rangers, who won promotion from the Ridgeons League will join Bury and AFC Sudbury in the Southern League Midland Division, while Maldon Town stay in Ryman League North.

Needham Market's hopes of promotion with Soham from the Ridgeons Premier have fallen through. They will stay where they are.

Meanwhile Nicky Smith is relishing his challenge at the helm of AFC Sudbury, despite the club being far from happy with their move across into the Southern League from the Ryman League. That will mean extra travelling for the west Suffolk club, but Smith, for now, is just looking to get things moving as he takes over from Mark Morsley.

“If I was ever going to go into management with any club, it would be this club,” Smith, a former Sudbury Town and Colchester United player, said.

“It's going to be a huge learning curve and I will be speaking to the players this week. As a player, I was always ambitious and nothing changes that now I'm a manager.

“Hopefully I can tap into the many contacts I have made in the games and I've already had plenty of calls from people offering me help should I need it.”

While celebrating Smith's appointment, AFC have however been left disappointed by the FA leagues committee, in consultation with the Ryman League, of their proposed move to play in the Southern League Midland Division from this August. Despite the financial and logistical pressures the move brings to the club and its supporters, the fact that AFC were not consulted at any stage of discussions has left them furious.

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