Cautious mood over County League restructure

HOR 100911 Football, Storrington v Bexhill United. photo by derek martin
HOR 100911 Football, Storrington v Bexhill United. photo by derek martin

FOOTBALL clubs in the Horsham district are cautiously optimistic over plans to merge Division 1 of the Sussex County League with neighbouring leagues.

Under the FA’s proposals, the top flight of the COunty League will be split to join either the new London South East or London South West League, or a new Southern League.

Teams joining the London South East League would merge with teams from the Kent League, and could include the likes of Peacehaven, Rye Utd, Ringmer and AFC Uckfield.

Teams joining the London South West League will merge with teams from the Combined Counties League and could include teams like Horsham YMCA, Three Bridges, Hassocks, Arundel, Shoreham and Worthing.

Teams joining the new Southern League will merge with the Wessex League and would likely be sides such as Chichester, Pagham and Selsey.

County League chiefs have slammed the proposals, fearing for the financial wellbeing of their members due to the liklihood of increased travelling.

Mick Browning, chairman of Division 1 club Horsham YMCA, said: “If we were fortunate enough to be placed in a division where we travel just 20 miles south or 20 miles north, we will not come out too badly.”

The restructure would also have ramifications for Division 2 clubs, although Storrington’s joint-manager James Baker believes they may not all be bad. He remarked: “My hope would be that the County League still existed in one form or another with two leagues as well as the ability to get promoted/relegated into the proposed re-structured higher leagues.

“Naturally we are always looking of ways to better ourselves as a club as well as ensuring that we work hard to provide the club’s players and members with great facilities so we will also be keen to see if there are any changes to ground grading regulations which will affect the new league structures.

“It could be that the new league structures will lead to a new release of ground-grading rules – this will mean that a lot of the remaining County 2 and 3 clubs may have to invest heavily if they wish to aim higher and gain entry to the proposed re-structured leagues. This may not be a bad thing as more clubs will have to work harder to improve facilities, if they do then a lot of players in Sussex will benefit long-term.”