Future of Sunday football league looks bleak

The future of Sunday football in the area hangs in the balance as the Chichester & West Sussex Sunday Football League's troubles continue.

Friday, 4th May 2018, 3:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:11 am
Sunday League football is under threat
Sunday League football is under threat

The number of member clubs have seen a continued decline over the past decade with the 2017-18 season seeing just six teams competing.

Despite initiatives such as the removal of player status restrictions, the introduction of multiple substitutions, suspension of league fees and a successful drive to reduce the administrative demands upon club volunteers, no turnaround in fortunes has been evident.

The league has also driven to almost nil the amount of money collected from club fines over this period.

A year ago all league officers and management committee members dedicated themselves to another season of striving to improve matters, but apparently to no avail.

With no increase in club numbers apparently forthcoming, coupled with no current member clubs having yet confirmed their affiliation for the 2018-19 season, it would be no surprise to see a number of the committee consider walking away safe in the knowledge they had done their bit.

The C&WSSFL is one of just three adult male Sunday football leagues in Sussex.

C&WSSFL secretary Colin Davis said: “The problem is clearly not geographical, appearing somewhat sadly to be more cultural. Sundays, and what we all do on the seventh day, have changed beyond all recognition this millennium.

“Pressures on work and family life have no doubt taken their toll. Football itself has also changed, and not always for the better. The amount of money swilling around at the top level with TV and transfer deals borders upon obscene, especially when considering just how little of that cash filters its way down to grass-roots football.

“Even at the lower echelons of the game it has been demonstrated recently the low regard in which Sunday football is held by those who should be supporting it.”

Davis said although Thursday evenings had long been when Sunday Leagues could schedule ‘catch-up’ fixtures towards the end of the season, Saturday leagues had started to ride roughshod over that unwritten rule.

Fixture congestion and grounds being used by higher league has caused the C&WSSFL to postpone cup finals until May, far from ideal.

“So there it is,” Davis added. “Sunday football in this area as we know it hangs by a thread.

“This past nine months have proved just how impractical it is to run anything resembling a competitive league worth the name with just six teams. We need at least ten to help us turn this once great competition around.”

Can you help? If so, contact league secretary Colin Davis by email at [email protected]