Wardlaw paints depressing picture

ONE of local football's most colourful and knowledgeable characters today painted a depressing picture for the future of clubs in the Ridgeons League and Metaltec SIL.

Elvin King

ONE of local football's most colourful and knowledgeable characters today painted a depressing picture for the future of clubs in the Ridgeons League and Metaltec SIL.

Trevor Wardlaw is now manager of SIL Division One Claydon having been in charge of a number of other clubs in the area at both Ridgeons and SIL senior and junior level.

He is certain that the economic recession will bite deep, and that players will have to start paying realistic match-day subscriptions of around �10 a game.


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If not a substantial number of clubs will fall by the wayside.

“Every club will suffer,” said Wardlaw. “But Ridgeons League more than SIL.

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“They will find that income from sponsorship will drop dramatically and they will also be hit by a big drop in advertising revenue.

“Over recent years these two sources have formed around 50 per cent of a club's income.

“Gone are the days when organising dances, discos and running raffles has been enough.

“Clubs who escape the pinch will be those who can come up with ingenious ways of finding new sources of revenue.

“If not they will have to put up match day fees to a realistic level, which will be at least �10 per player.”

With referee fees, laundry, pitch hire, power etc it costs around �100 to stage a game at Claydon's level.

An increasing number of players - some talented and some not so talented - have joined the Gravy Train that has been the Ridgeons League and senior section of the SIL.

Wage bills of �1,000 a week are currently being met by some Ridgeons clubs, while even the most impoverished are paying their players around �30 a game at Premier Division level. And the rate in the First Division is not that much reduced in the majority of cases.

“The recession will hit all levels,” added Wardlaw, whose players pay �5 subs if they lose and nothing if they get a result.

“This is whether it is a spectator deciding to renew his or her season ticket at Portman Road or a company being asked to put money into a local club.

“Sponsoring, advertising in programmes or boards around the ground will all suffer.”

An increase in refereeing fees may have played a part in improving their numbers - even more so as people look for additional income if made redundant - but it has become an extra burden to clubs.

And additional costs will also play a part in the potential demise of a number of local clubs - Whitton United have been the first major casualty in the area - and providing less money for players' “wages”.

“To keep up with current regulations local clubs have to spend around �2,000 just to provide adequate dug-outs,” said Wardlaw, who is looking to buck the trend and with Jeff Crane behind him as chairman give Claydon their first taste of senior football inside five years.

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