Ridgeons League will remain impartial after submitting Step Five ‘alternative’ to FA

Secretary Nigel Spurling has vowed to remain impartial after the Ridgeons League submitted a new Step Five reorganisation proposal to the FA.

Four consultation meetings have already been held as the FA seek to reduce the number of Step Five leagues in the country from 14 to 12 from the 2013/14 season.

Wisbech Town, Ely City, Newmarket Town, Mildenhall Town, CRC and Diss Town have supported original proposals which would see them and eight fellow Ridgeons Premier Division teams join 10 United Counties Premier Division sides in a new Eastern Division.

However, the league's 'alternative suggestion' offers travel respite to five Premier Division clubs who would face increased journeys as part of the national shake-up.

Their plans would replace the 64 matches in the new league - involving Wroxham, Great Yarmouth Town, Gorleston, Kirkley & Pakefield and Norwich United - that would contain a round trip in excess of 200 miles.

Spurling said: 'We as a league are neutral because some clubs are in favour of planned changes and some are not.

'We have formulated a possible alternative suggestion simply to give some help to those clubs most seriously affected by the changes. We support the FA's plan to review football at Step Five and support the idea that there should eventually be 12 divisions of 22 teams.

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'It is the first step to sorting out the imbalance at Step Six, which is in danger of collapse in certain areas of the country. The FA's overall plan is generally sound but it needs tweaking in certain areas.

'Other leagues have demanded clubs turn up to meetings and stick together in defiance to the plans but we haven't and we won't be doing that.

'A football league is here to facilitate football clubs - it's not a beast of its own. We are only thinking about what's best for our clubs.'

Spurling says 10,000 miles could be saved for Step Five clubs in their alternative make-up by 'shifting league boundaries'.

He insisted the Premier Division clubs who approved the original plans 'understand' and 'feel comfortable' with the need for an alternative - even though he admitted they are more 'geographically suited' to the FA's plans.

The on-going saga does mean the Eastern Counties League, whose eight-year backing by the Ridgeons Group finishes at the end of the season, could start next season without a sponsor.

Spurling said: 'It's a difficult time for all leagues that are looking to secure sponsorship and the FA recognise that.

'We don't know whether we will have a Step Five division or what area geographically it will cover. However, we have positioned the league financially to be able to deal with that so it's not the end of the world.'

The remaining seven Premier Division clubs - four from Suffolk and three from Essex - could join 18 clubs in the Essex Senior League plus Spartan South Midlands League outfit Haringey Borough to form a new London North East Division.

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