Whitton are rising to the challenge
WHITTON United are rising to the challenge on and off the pitch in their bid for promotion this season.
Rumours have been rife recently that the Ipswich-based club, who dropped out of the Ridgeons League Premier Division two seasons ago, will not be eligible for promotion from Division One should they finish in the top three in Division One.
Concerns have centred on their King George V ground not being up to the required standard - clubs in the Premier Division are required to have covered accommodation for a minimum of 200 spectators, of which at least 100 must be seated.
Whitton, whose plans to move to a new ground have been put on hold due to the recession, do not currently have any seating and only 50 spaces under cover.
However, club secretary Phil Pemberton said the club is on course to complete the necessary work to bring the ground up to Premier Division standards.
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He said: “Work has already started on a stand for more than 100 seats and by the end of this month we should be Grade G, which is the standard required for Division One.
“We have covered accommodation for 50 spectators at present, and will be creating 50 more spaces on the opposite side of the ground.
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“If we gain promotion we will have 12 months to get the ground up to Grade F standard, which is the standard required for the Premier Division, but all the work should be done before this year’s AGM in June.”
Pemberton said the club had already carried out work to improve facilities in the changing rooms and clubhouse at the ground and the overall cost of “several thousand pounds” was being sponsored by Mark Richards, whose company Mardi Foods is a McDonalds franchise with several outlets.
Nigel Spurling, secretary of the Ridgeons League, said: “Whitton have not got the ground standard for the First Division, and have only until March 31 to get it completed.
“Because they dropped out of the league two years ago, when they came back in last season naturally there were a number of reservations.
“If they do finish in the top three it will be necessary for them to appear before the management committee to assure us that they will not drop out again.
“At present they have not got the required minimum covered accommodation for 100 spectators, of which at least 50 must be seated to meet the First Division ground standards.
“If Whitton do get promoted they will be required to have covered accommodation for 200, including at least 100 seats, which is the requirement of the Premier Division, by March 31 next year otherwise they will be automatically relegated.
“The only leeway will be if they have prepared proposals and have the funding in place and they could possibly be given an extension for the work to be completed by the AGM in late June.”
Following Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw at home to leaders Cambridge University Press, Whitton sit in fourth position in Division One – just four points off the top and with games in hand on all the sides above them.
Whitton, who have now gone 19 games undefeated in the league since the end of August, have nine matches left, although four of these will be crammed into a hectic final eight days of the season.
They also have a big date coming up at Portman Road on Monday, April 4 when they face Lakenheath in the Suffolk Senior Cup final.