League switch plans to be discussed

FOOTBALL Association restructuring plans, which would split the Ridgeons League Premier Division and move Hadleigh United into a new London NE division, will be discussed at Stanway Rovers tomorrow.

The meeting involves clubs from south Suffolk and north Essex which would be most impacted by the change – Hadleigh and Stanway, plus Brantham Athletic, FC Clacton, Felixstowe and Walton, Wivenhoe Town and Woodbridge Town.

Those seven clubs would be put into a division containing mainly Essex Senior League sides, several within the M25, and Hadleigh acting chairman Rolf Beggerow fears such a switch could have a major impact on budgets.

“We are focused on how we best respond to these proposals,” he said, “and after the meeting I hope there will be a unified response.”

Hadleigh know the club would face an extra 600 miles travel each season if the proposals go through. “The impact is not just on travelling, but on player budgets. And the time factor could be quite a threat, particularly midweek away games where players may not be able to get off work,” he said.

The proposals are subject to clubs complying with the appropriate grading criteria. “The FA needs to ensure that all these clubs do meet the grade before any restructure,” said Beggerow.

Under the Step 5 review, the number of divisions nationally is set to be reduced from 14 to 12 by the start of 2013-14 season. Hadleigh’s acting chairman feels the review also needs to look at the step below – which includes the Ridgeons League First Division.