Ridgeons Football League urges FA to help prevent looming crisis for non-league football across Fenland

THE Ridgeons Football League has urged the FA to help solve a looming crisis which could change the face of non-league football across Fenland.

The league’s management committee is “very concerned” about a lack of teams applying for promotion to Step 6 in the non-league football pyramid. March Town United’s league, the Ridgeons First Division, is a Step 6 league.

Teams folding or amalgamating higher up the non-league pyramid have seen less clubs move down while many clubs at Step 7 - which includes the Kershaw Premier League where Chatteris Town play - do not want to get promoted.

Despite insisting the first division is not under immediate threat Nigel Spurling, the league’s secretary and treasurer, insisted something needs to be done.

Spurling said: “There has been no discussion whatsoever regarding the possibility of disbanding the Ridgeons First Division. However, I would not wish to speculate its future in, say, five years time if this continues.

“We’ve asked the FA to consider relaxing the rules for promotion because a number of clubs at Step 7 have said they do not wish to be promoted and other clubs are being blocked as a result.”

The Ridgeons First Division currently has only 17 teams - five below its capacity of 22. Wisbech Town - who play at Step 5 in the Ridgeons Premier Division - could see their league reduced from its current number of 22 to boost the number of teams in the first division.

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Spurling said: “There are two major reasons clubs are not progressing. The jump from Step 7 to Step 6 is a massive step financially because you need floodlights and these can cost �35,000-�40,000.

“Other clubs are happy to be a big fish in a small pond and want to win their league each year. Teams that invest in facilities, so as to be able to progress, are finishing their leagues behind teams that have invested in players.

“The issue has generated considerable debate and we look forward to talking this through with clubs to think about an agreeable way forward.

“We’d rather be talking about this now than when we’ve reached a critical point. We need to be discussing and planning and not firefighting at the 11th hour.”