Great Yarmouth Town worried by talk of FA Step Five restructure

Great Yarmouth Town have declared their opposition to a proposed Eastern Counties League revamp which could see Norfolk teams heading into the Midlands for many fixtures from 2013-14 onwards.

The FA Step Five restructure proposal being discussed could see 14 Ridgeons Premier Division teams, including Gorleston, Yarmouth, Dereham Town, Diss, Kirkley & Pakefield, Norwich United, Wisbech and Wroxham placed into a 24-team league along with teams from the United Counties League, including the likes of S&L Corby, Wellingborough Town and Thrapston Town.

The remaining clubs, from the south of the region, would play in a London North East League.

Yarmouth chairman Colin Jones, who has contacted the FA to voice his concern, admitted that with relegation likely this season the proposals were unlikely to affect the Bloaters in the near future. But he said: 'It has obviously been a very difficult season for us and my concern is the survival of Great Yarmouth Town FC and I personally see this as a threat to us and I have yet to speak with anybody who disagrees with that.'

Presenting a detailed case against the proposals, he voices concern over the increased cost and time involved in travel.

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The proposed longest trip would be to Stewarts & Lloyds Corby (253 miles), compared with Clacton and Ely (180 miles). The total travel for all teams in the league currently amounts to just over 40,000 miles whereas the new Eastern League would total nearly 64,000.

Clubs would face an average increase of 700 miles per club to travel per season.

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The cash-strapped Bloaters have already spent �2250 on minibus hire this season.

'A number of clubs we have communicated with have also intimated that they are considering withdrawing their reserve sides and youth teams in order to counteract the extra costs involved. This would decrease the development of grassroots football and, in our view, would adversely affect the prospects of the game and the National Game Strategy.

He continued: 'Our league has offered an alternative to the one suggested by the FA.

'This proposal would ensure that we, as a club, do not travel more than 200 miles to a game.'

• Gorleston's committee members had an in-depth discussion about the FA's controversial Step Five proposal on Wednesday night.

Richard Daniels, joint-manager of the Ridegeons League Premier Division outfit said that as a manager he was in favour of the change and the challenge but reservations about extra cost and travelling were expressed at the meeting.

'I think the general consensus was that the club would like to give it a go but the main concerns were the cost and the mileage.'

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