Chairman Colin Parker says St Neots Town Saints are not a St Neots Town reserve team

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THE chairman of the new United Counties League club St Neots Town Saints, Colin Parker, has told The Hunts Post: “This is not a reserve team – this is a natural development for St Neots Town Youth Football Club.”

There were raised eyebrows in the Huntingdonshire footballing community when the new team was given a place in next season’s UCL Division One last week, but Mike Kearns – the owner and chairman of St Neots Town, the club that St Neots Town Saints will groundshare with – has denied this a way for his club’s under-21s to play football at Step 6 of the non-league pyramid. “This is a groundshare agreement and they are a separate club under their affiliation with the FA,” he said.

“We are helping by putting a comprehensive groundshare package together.

“St Neots Town have also offered other local teams the opportunity to work with us in the development of young players.”

Parker, who has been with St Neots Town Youth for “six or seven years” and the chairman for six months, said: “This is very positive for local football. We want to challenge our footballers.”

It is this message of youth development that both clubs are keen to push.

Under St Neots Town manager Iain Parr the club has made great strides in youth development and has forged links with Premier League club Norwich City. But it has an under-21s’ team that has been playing non-competitive football – and Parr told me during the season that St Neots were actively looking for a league to play them in.

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The chairman of the UCL, John Weeks, insisted they would not welcome a reserve team into Division One because they have reserve team leagues. He said he had turned down many unofficial applications in the past from teams looking to enter their reserves into the UCL.

But of St Neots Town Saints, who last week had no manager or players, he said: “If you take them as a separate entity you must give them a chance. It is solely on the judgement of the FA which teams compete at which level. I know one thing: players in our league will certainly enjoy going to that ground and playing their football.”

Parker confirmed that the team would be an under-21s team and that the idea of entering a team into the UCL evolved from discussions with St Neots Town’s managing director Lee Kearns, the son of the club’s chairman.

“It’s all about doing something for the community,” he said. “It’s a natural progression for St Neots Town Youth FC.”