Step 5 proposals could lead to ‘nightmare scenario’
PROPOSALS to restructure leagues, including the Ridgeons League, at Step 5 level across the country could result in a “nightmare scenario” according to one league chairman.
John Weeks is chairman of the Chromasport United Counties League, some of whose clubs would form the new Eastern Division if the Football Association’s proposals in their current format are given the green light.
Under the proposals 14 clubs in the Ridgeons League Premier Division would join 11 from the UCL in the Eastern Division, with the remaining seven Ridgeons League clubs forming a London North East Division with clubs from the Essex Senior League.
Weeks said: “If the FA’S current suggestions come to fruition, clubs in the Premier Division of the UCL will be split off into four other Leagues. This not only gives UCL clubs some horrific journeys but teams in existing leagues will be faced with long return trips.
“Many are only just waking up to the facts and are most unhappy at that prospect. Wellingborough to Great Yarmouth or Kirkley; Cogenhoe to Westfield (Hereford) and Holbeach to Bridlington (a marathon of 163 miles and 3� hours driving) are some of the unwanted midweek trips required under the suggested new leagues’ make-up.
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“The extended journeys bring the prospect of paying players loss of earnings - assuming they can get time off work! Add this to the extra fuel costs, etc and the package becomes unsustainable.
“A club’s solution could be to drop to Step 6, but some clubs have spent up to �750,000 to attain Step 5. This could offer two divisions, geographically split, saving on existing costs and maybe not such a bad option?”
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He said UCL clubs were first alerted to the suggestions by the league at an open meeting. Clubs then considered their own costings and in a consultation meeting with the FA at Leicester, rejected the idea unanimously, as did clubs from the Ridgeons, Hellenic and Midland Alliance Leagues.
Weeks continued: “Clubs were advised to write to Mike Appleby at the FA with their concerns and many have expressed their view that they may scrap their Reserve and Youth teams to cut costs, at odds with the FA’s priority of player retention!
“Add to this the threat of being moved from league to league at season’s end to satisfy FA requirements and you have a nightmare scenario.
“The move to ensure the Review Group rethink this restructuring is rapidly gaining momentum and an on-line petition is next.” Weeks advised clubs to join the petition now to save Step 5. “It could be your league next!” he warned.
The petition can be found at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/step_5_petition/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=button