Suffolk & Ipswich Football League chairman Keith Norton confident no more clubs will fold
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk and Ipswich Football League chairman Keith Norton is confident no more clubs will go to the wall this season.
The long-standing official of the local grassroots scene – responsible for overlooking all 10 divisions in the Suffolk-based League – believes that despite the recent set-backs which has seen both Melton St Audry’s and Aldeburgh Town fold in the last week, the future of the SIL is in good hands.
“The news coming from Melton St Audry’s and Aldeburgh really is disappointing,” admitted Norton.
“I know both clubs tried really hard (to survive) but ultimately they were let down by a lack of player commitment.”
Aldeburgh, who had teams in divisions Two and Four, announced their resignation last week, while struggling Senior Division side Melton, having already folded their reserve team earlier in the season, withdrew on Monday – mainly due to a dwindling number of players.
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Norton continued: “I don’t think either club could’ve done much more, you can only try your best to get players to play.
“At the end of the day, the downfall of these clubs has been the lack of player commitment – players would rather go shopping than play football, which to me is a sign of the times.”
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Melton St Audry’s chairman Jeffrey Airey agreed, adding: “Years ago, players would always put football first, but the whole mentality has changed these days.”
Indeed, research from Suffolk FA’s Adult Male 11v11 Project Officer Gary Pinyoun shows that the levels of adult participation across the county are on the decline.
For example, in Suffolk during the 2010/2011 season, there were a recorded 597 teams in the county, while in the 2013/2014 season, there were just 537 – a loss of 60 teams in just three years.
That equates to a participation loss of at least 660 players, assuming all teams have at least 11 players in their squads.
But despite such a worrying trend, Norton doesn’t believe there is more to come in the SIL this year.
“There’s no danger of the SIL’s standards dropping,” continued Norton.
“We might lose the odd team, but I’m confident we won’t lose another club.”
In Friday’s Ipswich Star, read more about Melton St Audry’s SIL departure.