Sixteen Ridgeons League clubs in favour of alternative suggestion
SIXTEEN clubs are in favour and five against an alternative suggestion put forward by the Ridgeons League in response to the proposals to reorganise football at Step 5 level across the country.
This compares to just six being in favour and 15 clubs against the original proposal mooted by the Football Association which would see the Eastern Counties League, formed in 1935, ripped apart.
The alternative suggestion has been forwarded to the FA, who have now completed their four consultation meetings with clubs which have been held around the country as they seek to reduce the number of Step 5 leagues in the country from 14 to 12 from 2013/14 onwards.
The original proposals would see 14 Ridgeons League Premier Division clubs – those in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and mainly west Suffolk – joined in a new Eastern Division by 11 clubs from the United Counties League, which includes teams in Corby, Peterborough, Stamford and Wellingborough.
The remaining seven clubs – four east Suffolk sides and three from Essex – would join the 17 clubs currently in the Essex Senior League plus Haringey Borough from the Spartan South Midlands League to form a new London North East Division.
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Nigel Spurling, secretary of the Ridgeons League, said the league supported the principle of the Step 5/6 Review and believed that a reduction in the number of Step 5 divisions would be “for the greater good of the game” in England.
“Not least among our reasons for this view would be the knock-on effect to Step 6, which we believe to be in danger of collapse in certain areas of the country due to the declining number of teams playing at that level.”
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He said that following publication of the proposals the league had listened very carefully to the comments made by its current Step 5 clubs.
“As a league we must remain neutral with regard to the suggestions as we have clubs in favour of them and clubs against. We have 21 clubs in our Step 5 division at this time. Six clubs are in favour of the suggestions tabled. These clubs are geographically sited approximately toward the centre of the proposed new Eastern Division.
“The remaining 15 clubs are unhappy with the suggestions. The reasons for this are two-fold.
“Firstly, the seven clubs placed in the London North East Division are very concerned at the number of journeys they would be required to make which would take them inside the perimeter of the M25 motorway.
“It is felt that the traffic congestion there would increase their travelling time by such an amount as to be unreasonable bearing in mind that they would have to travel a considerable distance to first reach the M25 in any case.
“Secondly the remaining eight clubs that have been placed in the Eastern Division consider that the increased travelling required of them is unreasonable and excessive. We note from the mileage charts presented that the suggested Eastern Division contains 64 matches involving a round trip in excess of 200 miles.”
The ground grading exercise to see if clubs’ facilities are up to standard will start shortly and a list of eligible clubs will be confirmed by March 31 this year.
Club allocations are not expected to be confirmed until May 2013, with the new leagues starting in August 2013.