Proposals don’t ‘offer any benefit’ say Felixstowe & Walton United

FELIXSTOWE & Walton United FC believe the proposals put forward to re-organise leagues at Step 5 level “does not offer any future benefit” to the club.

Chairman Andy Wilding has spoken out for the first time since the Football Association’s proposals were made public in mid-January.

Under the proposals the Seasiders would be one of seven Ridgeons League (Eastern Counties League) clubs – four from Suffolk and three from Essex – placed in a new London North East Division with teams from the Essex Senior League.

The remaining 14 Ridgeons League clubs – those largely in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and west Suffolk – would be joined in a new Eastern Division by 11 clubs from the United Counties League.

The proposed re-structuring, aimed at reducing the number of Step 5 leagues in the country from 14 to 12 from 2013/14 onwards, would mean increased travelling for the majority of clubs, with Felixstowe facing an increase of 689 miles per season, including a return trip of 173 miles to Haringey.

Wilding said the club had considered the suggestions and examples of the step 5/6 review and club officials had attended a meeting with representatives of the Ridgeons (Eastern Counties) League and also a meeting in Leicester delivered by members of the FA before making their views public.

He said: “When considering the review at face value it could be said that there are some positives going forward. However, when looking at the review more deeply, the examples of the leagues structure offered throws up all kinds of issues and concerns which we feel does not offer any future benefit to Felixstowe & Walton United Football Club.

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“Many more miles incurred by travelling to the inner circle of the M25, further expenses incumbent with the additional mileage, players having to request permission from employers for an afternoon off work in order to meet the bus to meet the travelling arrangements for a mid-week 7.45pm kick off, and arriving back home in the early hours of the next morning are the main concerns.

“Add to this the additional finances placed upon us if this review were to be adopted and ratified at a later meeting, is not tenable. We are a positive, forward thinking football club and will embrace any idea put forward that is for the good of grass roots football and Felixstowe & Walton United, but NOT to the detriment of the game we all love.

“Indeed, we are ambitious and have thoughts of playing at Step 4 level and accept that should we one day achieve our ambitions, will accept that there will be further distances to travel and at greater expense.

“Playing at a higher level however, will serve to promote the town of Felixstowe and the community and with it should allow for greater sponsorship to ease the burden of higher expenses.

“At this current level, such longer distances and travelling time will have an impact on our current expenditure and would be very difficult to sustain. Any logically thinking person can make percentages and averages read what they want but they would not necessarily reflect the reality. It is the reality that must be first and foremost.”

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