North Walsham’s race against time to stay in Anglian Combination
Anglian Combination outfit North Walsham have less than two months to raise thousands of pounds and upgrade its facilities – or face being forcibly relegated.
The Angels have been given until June 25 to pay for and build an extension to its away dressing rooms at Greens Road, after failing to meet a previous deadline set by league officials.
And if the club fails they will be demoted to division one of the Anglian Combination – just a few days after their Premier Division position was safeguarded with one match to go.
Now officials have appealed to the community and local businesses to dig deep to help it raise the money – half of which is expected to be covered by the Football Foundation if the other half can be found by the club.
The crisis has come about because the Football Association has rules about facilities at different levels of the football pyramid.
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A year ago, Anglian Combination Premier Division clubs were given 12 months to comply with the rules for 'step seven' of the pyramid – the level at which the league operates. They include minimum sizes and standards for showers, toilets and dressing rooms.
At an Anglian Combination extraordinary general meeting on Monday evening, it was reported that every club except North Walsham Town had complied by the initial deadline of March 31.
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The situation meant the Angels faced immediate relegation to division one. But, after an 11th-hour plea by club officials, representatives from the other clubs agreed to give the Angels until June 25.
North Walsham Town vice chairman Anne Craske said the club had been held up by the length of time it had taken to get planning permission for the extension to the away dressing rooms, while no reply had yet been received to its application for �10,000 from the Football Foundation.
She said the original deadline of March 31 was 'unattainable', and added that the club still needed to raise �8,875 to meet the other half of the near-�21,000 cost of the work.
She said: 'The begging bowl is empty at the moment. We need support to help us reach this target.'
Keith Johnson, Anglian Combination league secretary, said: 'In a short space of time, every club except North Walsham managed to meet the deadline. We are pleased that the FA took the initiative to insist on these standards because it focused minds.'
He added: 'If the club does not comply by June 25, they will be relegated. However, having received assurances from the club on Monday night that it will be able to meet the deadline, I'm confident that they will.'