Whittlesey Athletic withdraw from United Counties Division One over funding issues

Whittlesey Athletic celebrate winning the PFA Senior Cup for the second successive season. Picture:

Whittlesey Athletic celebrate winning the PFA Senior Cup for the second successive season. Picture: MARK CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

Whittlesey Athletic have withdrawn from the United Counties Division One.

Whittlesey Athletic boss Andy Lodge. Picture: Andrew Hazelden

Whittlesey Athletic boss Andy Lodge. Picture: Andrew Hazelden - Credit: Archant

The first team’s league future had been up in the air following the news that funding to improve the club’s Feldale Field ground had been withdrawn earlier this week.

And today, chairman Wayne Gale has decided to withdraw the side from the division and take a big one-off fine rather than stay and be slapped with further penalties.

The club confirmed its withdrawal in a statement this morning (September 21).

It said: “This morning the first team have been withdrawn from the UCL with immediate effect.

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“Over the weekend, we had our funding to complete the ground improvements at Feldale withdrawn.

“Therefore, we will be unable to comply with UCL regulations as of September 30. After many discussions with the UCL and the FA, the decision was taken to withdraw the first team and incur the fines for this action. The further fines and costs to remain in the league would have not been sustainable.

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“We have had assurances from the FA that this will not affect the remaining four adult teams and our youth team. All will continue to compete in their current divisions and cups this season.

“This is a huge disappointment to everyone at the club and the local community, however the priority of the club has always been to provide footballing opportunities, whatever the level, to Whittlesey and the surrounding villages. This decision has been taken to safeguard the future of the club and this priority.”

The news follows the departure of manager Andy Lodge, who guided the club to the division for the first time in its history last season.

Lodge left on Monday (19) after learning that funding for a new set of floodlights – which had to be installed by September 30 – had been withdrawn.

He said: “I had a meeting with the club last night (September 18) about funding going forward and they’ve told me that they no longer have the funding available, so I was left with no choice but to leave.”

Whittlesey had experienced a steady start to their first UCL Division One campaign – winning three matches, drawing three and losing four.

Their most notable success game on August 20, when they hammered Burton Park Wanderers 15-0.

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