Concerns have been raised about the future of the long-running Morpeth Sunday League, with fears that it is in danger of folding.
From having four divisions and 44 clubs in 2004, the league – coming to the end of its 53rd season – has only 10 clubs in one division.
President Syd Johnson said: “The threat to the Morpeth Sunday League is a perfect example of the parlous state of local football, which is also recognised by the FA.
“There are several reasons for this state of affairs and most leagues in the county, both Saturday and Sunday-orientated, are losing members hand over fist.
“The social side of sport and leisure is changing. Sponsorship from local businesses, clubs and pubs is no longer as available as it used to be and the cost of local-authority facilities has increased.
“The Morpeth Sunday League has taken the drastic action to reduce the financial factor, by reducing league fees from £100 to £25 and cutting the bond fee from £100 to £50, which is refunded should the club expire without any financial liabilities to the league.
“League meetings are kept to a maximum of four, and fund-raising draws suspended, which greatly reduces the clubs’ financial outlay.
“These are drastic measures, which could not be in force for any length of time, but are seen as a further attempt to help club outlay.
“Insurance liabilities have also been tackled and the league has a very competitive insurance scenario, with premiums of various amounts for individual club choice.
“The league has been very competitive this season and the league management committee is dedicated to continuing next season, with the loyalty of current clubs essential, as well as hopefully attracting some new clubs.
“The league has suffered two body blows this season, with the untimely deaths of long-serving chairman Ken Gray and life member Joe Knox.
“League chairman Ken Gray held that position for more than 40 years, and the league was only too pleased to accede to the wishes of Ken’s family, to introduce another charity competition alongside the George Cave Memorial Cup; the proceeds from both competitions going to local charities.
“The loss of Ken and Joe, added to the uncertain future of the league, has made the management committee more determined to continue next season, and any club wishing to play in the Morpeth Sunday League next season will be welcomed and given every assistance.”
For more information and to register an interest in joining, send an email to Syd on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 01670 531224. Or call league secretary Alan on 01670 819459.