TWO of South Holland biggest footballing figures have spoken out against proposed plans to scrap the United Counties League.
An FA review panel is rumoured to be planning a major review of the Step Five level of the National League System, with two leagues expected to be binned off.
UCL chiefs attended a meeting of all Step Five leagues at Burton Albion last Sunday, with both they and the Sussex County League being tipped for the axe.
The potential proposal would see the current figure of 14 leagues cut to 12, which would then feed into six leagues at Step Four standard.
That would mean that Spalding United and Holbeach United, as well as other local sides such as Deeping Rangers, King’s Lynn Town, Boston Town and Blackstones, would be relocated to new leagues – meaning the likelihood of less derby fixtures and more travel costs.
Spalding player/coach Danny Hussey, who has played for a host of UCL clubs, reckons such a move would kill football in this area.
He said: “As somebody that grew up in Holbeach and a player of Spalding, I’m dead against it.
“It’s not really financially viable for clubs, players or fans at this level and would lead to big problems.
“Clubs wouldn’t have as many derby games and players wouldn’t fancy the extra mileage. Gates would then drop, it’d essentially kill local football here.”
Holbeach boss John Chand echoed Hussey’s sentiments, but feels the league will survive if all the clubs pull together.
“I think a lot of it is hot air at the moment,” admitted the Tigers manager. “If all the clubs are against it, they’d find it hard to make such a change.
“I can see what the FA are thinking in terms of 12 leagues going into six, but teams at this level don’t always want to be promoted.
“If we were to be moved into the Ridgeons League, NCL or the SSML, it just would cripple some of the clubs in this financial climate.
“I don’t think it will happen, but I’m certainly 100 per cent against it as an idea.”
Local clubs are now expected to send representatives to a meeting in Leicester on January 29 where they will have the chance to explore the plans and air any concerns.
Should the plans be given the go-ahead, they will be put into place ahead of the 2013/14 season – meaning next year’s campaign could be the last-ever for the UCL.
The UCL’s registration secretary and press officer Jeremy Biggs said: “There are a lot of rumours circulating and they are not all without foundation, but it is too early to go into specific details at this stage.
“We hope to be in a position to provide our clubs with information as to what this review could mean for them in the near future.”
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