Whitton urged to reach out for help

GRAHAM Emmerson, secretary and treasurer of the King George V Playing Field Trust, says that troubled Whitton United should reach out for help from former players and officials.

Elvin King

GRAHAM Emmerson, secretary and treasurer of the King George V Playing Field Trust, says that troubled Whitton United should reach out for help from former players and officials.

“They have been one of the most successful clubs in Suffolk over the years and have a rich heritage,” said Emmerson.

“They should reach out to former players and officials as the clubs needs them right now. They need some leadership and direction.”

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Emmerson, who is chief executive of Ridgeons League Needham Market, answered the pleas put by Whitton in the Evening Star on Wednesday.

Having withdrawn their first team from the Premier Division of the Ridgeons League, Whitton said that it was the financial strain of having to run the King George V Playing Field site at Whitton that caused their problems.

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“We are losing �15,000-a-year running the ground for the trust,” said Whitton press officer Ian Hart. “To return to the First Division of the Ridgeons League next season, and to secure our future before a new ground is built in seven years' time, we need a lease so that we can obtain grants for improvements.

“And also the release of the �40,000 earmarked for use at Whitton following the closure through building on the former football pitch at Cliff Lane.”

Speaking on behalf of the trustees, Emmerson said this could not happen. “We were not asked until a few months ago by Whitton to issue a lease,” explained Emmerson. “Under the terms of the trust, this is not possible as the site is not meant for just one club. But we did tell them that we would issue a letter confirming them as a key holder tenant.

“Regarding the money from the Cliff Lane site, which is actually �37,000, this was going to be used for providing dressing room facilities etc when the pitch below the Maypole public house came back into use.

“But it was felt this would have been a waste to have spent it already - as it would have been pulled down with the planned building of houses on the site. We have released interest from the account for Whitton's use.”

Emmerson feels that Whitton should be looking at themselves for their current troubles and says that they have a good deal.

“Okay, it may be costing them �20,000-a-year to maintain the site, with only �5,000 income from pitch hire,” said Emmerson.

“But the only rent they pay is �2,000 - and they have all their many youth teams using the facilities. The only outside clubs are Crane Sports and King's Head and I read that 26 teams are using the four pitches.

“It is not a commercial rent, and what income is made goes back to Whitton.”

Emmerson says that he hopes Whitton can carry on - with a new stadium to be built for them when planning permission is received and houses plus a surgery are built on the current site.

“Surveys are being done and there is good political support for the plans for the housing estate plus two football pitches, and a new King George V site off Whitton Church Lane,” added Emmerson.

“Whitton have had - and will continue to have - opportunities that other clubs would relish.

“The whole idea is to give Whitton the best facilities in the area. I have tried to help them but they have been a shambles.

“They have not helped themselves, and my advice to them is to reach out for help.”

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