Non-League Football: Chaos in leagues over clubs’ finances

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With the season still six weeks away the financial repercussions of the current climate are already hitting clubs and leagues alike, with the Football Association facing a crisis over league formations.

It all started with the news that the former Football League club Hereford United had folded with thousands of pounds of outstanding debts and fellow Conference Premier League club Salisbury thrown out of the top division because they were unable to pay outstanding debts. It meant many changes down the pyramid and when Worksop Town followed suit in the Unibond Leagues Premier Division they too had to make changes.

The chain reaction saw clubs reinstated into leagues they had been relegated from and of course whilst the bigger leagues were left safe it meant the lower pyramid leagues and clubs have to readjust and hope things will work out well.

One such league was The Toolstation North Counties East League who had the same problem last season when Hucknall Town told the Unibond League that they were unable to continue in their league and were dropped to the North Counties East League. They then decided they could not afford the travelling costs and were dropped further down to the Central Midlands League.

Luckily the North Counties East League managed to recruit a new club and things carried on.

Now the same thing has happened again as Wakefield F.C. told the Unibond League they could not afford to carry on and were relegated to the North Counties East League where they were to share grounds with A.F.C.

Emley which was a marriage of convenience as Wakefield needed a ground and Emley were in financial trouble themselves.

The signs were there when Wakefield missed the Annual General Meeting in Scarborough last week and this weekend Wakefield announced that their Chairman was standing down and they would not for financial reasons be competing in the North Counties League, the F.A. Cup or the F.A. Vase this season.

The lateness of the clubs withdrawal means the Leagues Premier Division will start their campaign a team short whilst A.F.C. Emley are desperately looking for sponsors to maintain their own standards which are falling duet o lack of finances. Surely though when leagues drop clubs from their divisions they should make certain they can still continue to maintain pyramid standards and it is obvious they are not doing so, leaving the lower leagues to struggle on.

One club that are not struggling is Sheffield F.C. who started training two weeks ago under new manager Mick Wadsworth who is keen to test his new look squad with ten friendly already lined up.

The first is away at Cannon Park against Retford United on Tuesday July 8th followed two days later at home to Sheffield Wednesday whilst on the 15th they entertain Chesterfield.

However two games stand out for me when on Saturday July 26th the club entertain a strong team from the Royal Engineers with the proceeds going to a worthy cause “Help the Heroes”.

The following Saturday August 2nd they entertain a team from Holland ASK-PSV Salzburg which should show us the difference between the two countries at our level which surely has to be better than anything we have seen in the World Cup.

The following day Sunday August 3rd they entertain their old foes Hallam and with both teams in the midst of both managerial and club changes it should be a good pointer.

Meanwhile Parkgate have been busy improving their excellent ground at Green Lane by having a new drainage system installed to make their ground one of the best in our area.