11:39am Thursday 15th May 2014
ONE hundred and 20 years of Saturday football in the Kidderminster and District League looks set to come to an end next season.
League officials have warned they will have to close the Saturday Premier unless there is a surge of new teams.
The news will hit a number of teams based in and around the Stourbridge and Dudley areas that currently compete at that level.
At its peak, the competition boasted six divisions but has decreased in size over the last decade.
Chairman Ernie Pyke has blamed a change in players’ attitude for the declining number of teams wishing to play on Saturday.
The rise or under-21 football and working at weekends has also had an impact.
This season the division had just 11 clubs at the start of the season, which decreased to nine.
Pyke said: “We are all devastated by this news. It’s been coming for a while, the number of teams playing on a Saturday has steadily decreased.
“Attitudes have changed, young people today have a lot of other distractions.
“They don’t want to get up on a Saturday morning and play because they have been in nightclubs until the early hours or have work.
“At the moment we have four teams who want to play in a Saturday division next season and the Worcester League has three.”
Pyke also cited the cost of hiring a pitch from Wyre Forest District Council as a contributing factor.
Teams from the district pay £64 a game to play, but prices for teams outside of the area rose during last season from £71.50 to £85 and will go up to £89 next season.
The league is currently in talks with the council of taking over the running of their pitches.
Linda Collis, director of Community Well-being and Environment for the council, said: “Football pitches are very expensive for the council to maintain but the prices we charge clubs are heavily subsidised.
“Teams from outside the area use our pitches as their home ground as there are not pitches available in their own locality. The council does not think that Wyre Forest residents should be subsidising those teams outside of the district to the same extent as local teams."
“The council wants to encourage people in the district to play football and the pitches are almost full.”
Any teams wishing to join the Saturday Premier can call Pyke on 01299 823869.
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