Almondsbury Town to withdraw from the Southern League
ALMONDSBURY TOWN chairman Bob Jenkins revealed yesterday that the first team is set to disband at the end of the season after the club was unable to find a new home.
With their lease at Oaklands Park set to run out at the end of May and the nearby Hallen Centre refusing them permission to share the facilities with Western League Premier side Hallen, the club has decided to withdraw from the Southern League after just one season.
Positive talks were held with Clevedon Town about a possible move to share their facilities next season ahead of yesterday’s extended Southern League deadline.
However, after attending an Almondsbury parish council meeting on Tuesday night, Jenkins admitted defeat in the club’s attempts to play at Hallen and return to the parish in the future.
He said: “We got on well (with Clevedon) in terms of striking a deal but we felt, as a committee and as trustees, that from the meeting at the parish council it was pretty obvious that there are people on the council that are against Almondsbury Town joining the facilities.
“With the negative vibes there, it seems pointless that we spend money at Clevedon or wherever if we never get back on our patch.
“We haven’t taken it lightly, we’re one of few clubs to fold not owing money, it’s purely because of facilities.
“If we were staying where we were, there wouldn’t have been a problem, but having to move on wouldn’t have been fair on our supporters.”
In order to continue playing at Southern League level, Almondsbury needed to find a ground with E-grade facilities, but were unable to negotiate deals to play at either of the grounds in their own parish that would enable them to do so.
The club are expected to make a decision in the summer over whether they will cease to exist altogether, which will be dependent on whether they find a new ground for their current reserve side, who play in Premier Division One of the Bristol Suburban League - six divisions lower than the Southern League, Almondsbury won the Hellenic Premier Division in 1983-84 and 2009-10 and reached Wembley in 1979 when they were beaten by Billericay Town in the FA Vase Final.
Currently in their first ever season in the Southern League, they only lie outside the play-off positions in Division One South & West on goal difference.
The ground saga started when they were informed by their landlords, the Gloucestershire FA, that they were being evicted from the clubhouse.
Although they agreed a last-minute deal to continue playing at Oaklands Park this season, Winterbourne United and Roman Glass St George have agreed deals with the GFA to play over the next three seasons. Jenkins said: “It’s such a shame it’s come to this, the GFA took away our lifeline with the clubhouse, and we’ve tried to compete elsewhere but it’s possibly time to knock it on the head.
“We were led on by the Hallen Centre and Hallen Football Club.
“We’ve worked really hard over the last five or six years getting the club where it is.
“We’ve been to Wembley, we’ve got a super history but sometimes you put your hands up and say you can’t beat the system.
“It has been hard work, we’ve done the ground grading ourselves and taken no money off the GFA and raised money in the best ways possible.
“I would like to thank North Bristol Rugby Club for letting us use their clubhouse, they accommodated us really well.
“That’s what true sport is about, two sets of players mixing.”
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