NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: They could be sent down by Coronavirus, but there’s no threat to the tight St Ives Town ship

St Ives Town chairman Gary Clarke (centre) with the club's football and education programme joint ma

St Ives Town chairman Gary Clarke (centre) with the club's football and education programme joint managers Craig Adams (left) and Lloyd Groves (right). Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON - Credit: Archant

Coronavirus could lead to relegation for St Ives Town – but chairman Gary Clarke insists it certainly won’t threaten the future of the club.

Goalmouth action from the New Year's Day clash between St Ives Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Pict

Goalmouth action from the New Year's Day clash between St Ives Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON - Credit: Archant

The Southern League Premier Division Central strugglers were fighting to avoid the drop when the pandemic brought the season to a sudden halt.

Ricky Marheineke’s side found themselves three points from safety with nine games remaining when the campaign was shutdown earlier this month.

It seems a resumption is highly unlikely with speculation strongly suggesting the final standings will be decided using a points-per-game ratio . . . and that would send Saints down.

“I suspect that is the route they will go down,” said Clarke, who also sits on the Southern League board.

St Ives Town defender Tom Hamblin during their defeat to leaders Peterborough Sports last month. Pic

St Ives Town defender Tom Hamblin during their defeat to leaders Peterborough Sports last month. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON - Credit: Archant


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“That’s a decision which is out of our hands as a league. We have no say in the matter.

“That will come from the FA Alliance Committee and meetings are already going on this week to work out a solution.

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“From our perspective, six of our remaining games are against bottom 10 teams and we’d be hopeful of picking up enough points to get out of the bottom three, but it obviously doesn’t look likely they will be played. We have to accept we’re in the relegation zone at the point where the season has been stopped.

“If we do go down it’s not currently clear whether we will be put into the current Southern League Division One Central where St Neots Town play, or whether we will end in the new Step 4 division being run by the Northern Premier League next season which is predicted to have a rough geographical of the South East of the Midlands.

“We will take it on the chin if it does happen, look back on four seasons as a Step 3 club and aim to come back stronger.”

While Saints may find themselves playing at a lower level next season, the outlook is otherwise healthy for the Westwood Road club.

Many non-league clubs have publicly pleaded poverty since the sport was halted and been left worried for their futures.

But the only financial hit Saints have taken during the Coronavirus outbreak is £200 for beer that has not been drank!

“We have no worries whatsoever as St Ives Town Football Club has always been run as a tight ship within its means,” added Clarke.

“We often get a bit of stick for not having a massive playing budget, but we have no borrowings and we don’t overspend.

“My only loss are the two kegs of beer that I’ve had to throw away because I couldn’t drink it all myself!

“That’s a couple of hundred quid down the drain, but all joking aside that’s the only issue we’ve had.

“We cancelled all our training slots and gym sessions and we’ve pretty much mothballed the club. Everything has been switched off.

“Our academy lads are still working from home with their tutors leading them remotely. The learning hasn’t stopped for them even though the football has.

“We’re continuing to have to board meetings for the club as well. It’s important we plan for the future even though we’re not quite sure where or when that will be at the moment.

“We’ll be doing them over Skype . . . providing us old codgers can actually use it!

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