Huntingdon Town and Godmanchester Rovers could be shifted and Seb Hayes threatens to quit

Huntingdon Town manager Seb Hayes at Jubilee Park. Picture: Helen Drake

Huntingdon Town manager Seb Hayes at Jubilee Park. Picture: Helen Drake - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon Town manager Seb Hayes says the FA will ‘destroy the club’ if it is forced to move sideways from the United Counties League for next season.

Hayes guided Huntingdon to a second-place finish in the Premier Division of the UCL this season but has told The Hunts Post he would be forced to quit the club and the squad would break up if it is placed in either the Eastern Counties League or the South Midlands League.

Huntingdon and Godmanchester Rovers, who successfully appealed a move from the Eastern Counties League to the UCL last summer, have both been told they are on a list of clubs the FA is considering shunting sideways. But Hayes said: “If we are moved to the ECL or the South Midlands League then I would have to stand down.

“It would be the death of Huntingdon Town as we know it.

“I have a young family and I couldn’t commit with all the extra travelling – and the players too would have a problem with the travelling. The side would break up. The FA would be destroying the club.”

Godmanchester, on the other hand, are pretty relaxed about the scenario. Karly Hurst, the general manager, said: “I don’t think a move to the South Midlands League would harm us as a club. We don’t want to move but we aren’t frightened of anything they put in front of us. We don’t know much about the clubs in the South Midlands but if moving to that league is another chapter in our book then we will be prepared and go for it.”

Of course, Godmanchester could be shifted to the UCL (as was mooted last season) and join Huntingdon – or both could be moved the South Midlands. There are many different scenarios – especially when you add Eynesbury Rovers to the mix. Martin Field, the joint manager at Eynesbury, says he would be furious if the club was forced to leave the UCL after spending 13 years trying to win promotion back to its Premier Division.

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Eynesbury secured second place and promotion last week but it may not be the Premier Division, from which the club was relegated in 2001, that they are destined to play in next season.

Eynesbury, who were in the picture for promotion to Step 5 throughout the season, were oddly ignored when it came to giving notice of possible movements last month.

“I would be furious if we are not left to play in the United Counties League,” said Field. “The club has been trying to get back to the Premier Division of the UCL for 13 years. Geographically the South Midlands League does not make sense. That is not for me.”

Mark Frost of Huntingdonshire FA, who sits on the FA Leagues Committee, told The Hunts Post: “At the time, Eynesbury were a step 6 side. Godmanchester and Huntingdon have been given notice that at the end of the season they might move sideways into a league that is currently unknown.

“These are a Step 5 and 6 focus group recommendations. At the end of the day, geographically, these things need to be looked at. The final decision will be with the FA Leagues Committee.”

John Weeks, the chairman of the UCL, is expecting any decision to be made in the second week of May. He says the league would welcome Godmanchester with open arms. “We have to try and balance our divisions, our constitution says we should have 22 teams in each division and we only expect to lose Spalding United, who have won promotion. We had 19 teams in the Premier this season and 21 in Division One.

“So we lose Spalding and gain Godmanchester and it would be nice to see another team shoved across.

“We want to do what the clubs want us to do within the constraints of the FA.”

With 14 leagues nationally at Step 5 of the English football pyramid, the FA is endeavouring to have a bit of a sort out. This means there often has to be movement between boundaries and county borders.

Huntingdon’s Jubilee Park ground is a 4.5-mile drive from Godmanchester’s Bearscroft Lane but the two teams have never played in the same league. That could well change as the most sensible outcome would be for Goddy to join Huntingdon and Eynesbury in an intriguing UCL Premier in August.