CAM Bulldogs’ application to join the Gloucestershire County League for the first time in their history has been turned down.
The Northern Senior League Division One leaders could be crowned champions this weekend but will not be promoted even if they finish top.
Although Cam have made improvements to their facilities at Everlands in an attempt to reach the County League ground grading criteria, their bid has been scuppered by a requirement to play home evening games at the start and end of the season.
Bulldogs chairman Stuart Grimwood said that would not be possible due to a gentleman’s agreement with Cam Cricket Club, which sees the ground handed over in the summer, and is now looking at alternative options in case they find themselves in the same position again, with ground-sharing with another football club a possibility.
Their application was also refused as the ground doesn’t have any solid barriers.
Grimwood claimed they had found a sponsor for that work to be done but felt it would have been a waste of money due to the fixtures issue.
“We are very disappointed. The County League have put obstacle after obstacle in our way,” said Grimwood.
“We’ve always played our first games in the Northern Senior League away, but now the County League need us to play at home in May and August and there is no way we can do that. They won’t let us play away in those fixtures or use another pitch.
“Kings Stanley have the same problem, but the County League allow them the same as the Northern Senior League do.
“We’ll go out now to win the league and create history, and we’re looking to put things in place for next season.”
County League general secretary Ron Holpin insisted that allowing Cam to only play away games during busy periods of the season would cause fixture scheduling problems.
He said: “Evening games are essential. They’re losing two months of the season because the cricket club restrictions can’t accommodate that.
“Other clubs have got arrangements with cricket clubs where we relax the rules, allowing ropes near the cricket square for these games.
“It’s an awkward situation but if they can resolve that and get everything else ready then we will go back and inspect it.”
Holpin added that the League were trying to be fair to Cam by letting them know of the decision before next week’s deadline to save them spending more money on upgrading their ground, but the club had already done work to make the pitch bigger, which caused the cricket club to lose a strip, extended the changing rooms and added toilets and hand wash basins.
The cricket club allowed them to play at Everlands last Tuesday when they beat Minsterworth 2-1 and their home game against Harrow Hill tonight has been switched to Hamfields Leisure Centre.
Cam are then away on Saturday to Cheltenham Civil Service, who are seven points behind them, and if they win both they will secure the title with two games to spare.