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A letter to Elmore Football Club's critics. (Website Headline Not My Words)

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Below is a letter posted by Elmore's programme editor on the Mid Devon Gazette website.

I would like to respond to the criticism Elmore FC has received following its recent decision to retire from the South West Peninsula Premier Division.

The criticism seems to be biased and made without fully knowing all the facts.

Even the leagues Press Officer had a go saying: Its a pity that those in charge at Elmore did not take a leaf out of the books of Penzance, Liverton and Perranporth after all three clubs utilised youth and reserves to complete their season and are still members of the Peninsula. Even Foxhole struggled for two or three seasons before finally having to admit defeat. But to throw in the towel without seemingly giving it a try, and the very next evening put out two teams to fulfil reserve and youth fixtures, has not endeared Elmore to the Peninsula League.

First and foremost, I am NOT a committee member at Elmore. Yes, I do edit their award-winning matchday programme and perform some PR functions, but this letter is purely from a personal viewpoint and not written on behalf of the club.

Because of my involvement with the programme I do have quite a good knowledge of what has been going on at the club, so let me tell you the facts as I know them.

Last season Elmore manager Peter Buckingham had to use 46 different players. Most of those, were U18s, U16s and third team players. Note I did not mention the second team. Although a few did step up to help out the first team, it seems that most were content playing in the reserves and had no wish to play for the first team unless it was a home game.

This season, in the eight league and two cup games played before Elmore withdrew from the league, Buckingham had already been forced to use 29 different players, again mainly U18s, U16s and third team players. Whats more some of the youngsters were burning out under the pressure of playing up to three games a week in a bid to meet their obligations to the U18s and U16s etc.

So Elmore HAD been utilising their youth players etc and had been doing so for some time.

At the start of the season Elmore lost almost their entire U18 squad when the U18 manager upped and left for another club and took the players with him. So it was a scratch U18 team this year in any case. Several reserve team players have also been enticed away across town or financial gain

The successful former Willand Rovers manager Clive Jones joined the club as joint manager at the start of the season, but even he was unable to attract fresh faces to the club. It was his departure in mid-September, citing lack of player commitment, and the fact that some of the youngsters also decided at the same time to jump ship saying they were not up for the fight, that prompted the calling of an emergency meeting of the Elmore football committee which led to the decision to withdraw from the league.

When youngsters who have been given a chance of gaining much needed experience of senior football, which they probably would not have gained elsewhere, leave then what hope is there!

Elmore have had to compete for players against five other local clubs (even one of the other clubs reserve side were offering financial rewards more than double what Elmore could afford), so the playing pot was getting smaller and smaller.

To be honest, the writing was on the wall almost from the start of this season.

Twice Elmore had to travel to away games with only 11 players, again mainly youngsters, and twice with only one substitute. Even at home games Elmore were often only able to field one substitute.

Football today, even at our local level, is all about money. It costs a lot just to keep a side going in any league, let alone the Peninsula.

In the Peninsula League you have to meet the cost of the officials (more than £190 in the case of Elmores match against Torpoint Athletic), produce a match programme (believe it or not Elmores programme, of which I was the editor, WAS not a loss-maker!), pay for ground maintenance plus provide food for the players and officials after the match. When you consider the cost of admission at £4 and Elmores average home crowds around the 50 to 60 mark, then you can see they were far from breaking even....and thats before you even think about the players expenses budget!

You cannot go on hemorrhaging money and, with no solution on the horizon, is it no wonder they were forced into making the decision they did.

I believe that what Elmore have done is to make a very brave decision. I may not agree with it personally, but I dont think they had too many options.

There was an almost undeniable inevitability about it.

Elmore have not messed people around, instead they have held their hands up and said we are struggling. Reluctantly, they made the only decision I think they could.

The Eagles have to look after the long-term financial health of the club. I believe the decision they made is in the best interests of the club. That decision may not be in the best interests of the Peninsula League, but first and foremost, Elmore must look after themselves.

Colin Gunney

Elmore FC programme editor (not a committee member)

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£190 for match officials ??? Is it any wonder that clubs are dropping from the league with those kind of match costs. Surely match officials dont need to travel so far that a £190 mileage bill is accrued to the home club. Get ready for more teams dropping out if thats the case because with low attendances that is not sustainable for most clubs.

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So what would, on average, be the cost of officials for a premier division match?

The match fees come to £76 (for all three officials) plus expenses at 38p per mile, and the match officials should travel together when coming from a distance (something Paul Murphy does very well). The highest mileage I claimed last year was 100 miles round trip (£38) although I travelled further and felt I didn't need to claim any more.

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