Sunday League ready to extend their boundaries

Trafalgar and Newlands, above in action, have dominated the Sunday League in recent years, but participation numbers are worryingly in decline
Trafalgar and Newlands, above in action, have dominated the Sunday League in recent years, but participation numbers are worryingly in decline

The Scarborough News Sunday League are aiming to bring a halt to the rapid decline in participation numbers by expanding their borders.

With teams dropping out of the league at an alarming rate and others also struggling to consistently raise a full side, the league’s committee are hoping to expand their borders from 18 miles to 26 in an attempt to boost numbers.

After having to drop down from three divisions to two in recent years, chairman Mark Plumpton is keen to put an end to the worrying trend of teams pulling out.

He said: “The committee decided that we need to try and recruit some new teams and try to halt the decline.

“If we can attract some new clubs and things start to improve, then there’s no reason why more local teams won’t want to get back involved.”

While Plumpton understands that some teams will object to the committee’s plans, he fully expects that the slippery slope of decline will continue if they don’t act now.

He added: “I can only see us eventually going down to one division at this rate.

“There seems to be a lot of apathy towards Sunday League football and it is our job as a committee to halt that and do something about it.

“Maybe we need to adopt the mentality of the cricket leagues, they are willing to travel further.”

The committee are also set to invite established Saturday League teams into the league with potentially reduced rates, while they will also be contacting clubs from the Saturday League and also the Ryedale and Driffield-based leagues to see if they’d be interested in fielding a team from the next couple of seasons.

In addition to those invitations, the current clubs who have under-15s teams will be asked to move into a division three en masse in two years time, giving them time to integrate into senior football.

Committee member and Commercial manager Geoff Osguthorpe added: “We need to be proactive and reactive and work closely with our existing teams in order to push the league forward.

“We are reviewing and exploring all avenues we can to see how we can effect this in a positive way.

“While we are aware that opening up the boundaries would have an increased travelling impact on our local sides, it may help to attract a couple of extra new teams into the league.”

Klosters manager Rhys Howell is backing the committee’s plans.

He said: “The Sunday League has been as bad as I can remember it this season.

“I think the committee are right to explore their options. Having to travel further might not be universally popular but they need to try something.”

Newlands boss Ben Luntley also believes something needs to be done, but is wary of the extra financial burden.

He said: “I agree something needs to be done, it’s a good idea in principle.

“My main concern would be the extra money it’ll cost teams with further to travel for players and referees.

“It’d be interesting to get some new teams into the league, especially for us and Trafalgar.

“It’s scandalous that the Premier League are getting £5billion for TV rights and none of it is coming down to grassroots football.”