Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Godmanchester Rovers might have earned themselves promotion from the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Premier Division had it not been for a handful of poor results around Christmas.
They might have sneaked second spot and still gone up into the Calor Gas Central Division.
The history books will tell of the club’s failure. What they will not record is the sigh of relief which came from chairman Keith Gabb.
Not so much relief as frustration because he knew his club would have had to refuse a place in Level 4.
The reason for any such refusal is entirely the fault of the Football Association and their grounds inspection committee, Gabb said.
“We had an inspection when it looked as if we might win promotion,” he told The Hunts Post. “Their demands were such that we would have had to turn it down.
“They told us we would have to put in an extra turnstile, have to provide a separate room for visiting directors and officials, a 150-seat stand and build a fence in front of a 9ft-tall hedge at the end of the ground so people can’t see the football for free.
“What they demanded would, we estimated, have cost £24,000 or thereabouts. When John Major was in power, funding would have been 90 per cent – now it’s down to 47 per cent which equates as a cost, to our club, of £13,000.
“There is no way we could afford anything like that in a million years.”
Mr Gabb was planning a campaign aimed at FA chairman Greg Dyke, but he recognises the futility of arguing about demands which border on the Draconian.
“The turnstile is something we were planning anyway,” he said. “But a separate room for 24 people? I doubt we ever get more than four or five officials from visiting clubs and they are always invited to share hospitality in our clubhouse.
“We are at Level 5 and I’d like to think we are ambitious. The truth is we can’t afford to be, so where do we go from here? I don’t know the answer to that; all I do know is that we at this level seem to be knocking our collective heads against a wall.
“What’s even funnier is that I understand the FA are thinking about bringing in a rule which forces clubs to accept promotion if they win the right. If the cost is prohibitive – as in our case – how the hell can they do that?”