Fans to miss England game for meeting

WHILE football fans throughout England will be glued to their TVs tonight, spoilsports from a Suffolk football league have shown the game the red card.

WHILE football fans throughout England will be glued to their TVs tonight, spoilsports from a Suffolk football league have shown the game the red card.

Representatives from clubs now face missing the most important game since the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil two years ago or being hit with a fine if they fail to show up at their annual meeting.

At a time when the bars and pubs will be full one of the area's biggest football leagues, the Metalec Suffolk and Ipswich League (SIL), will be holding its AGM at Ransomes Sports Club in Ipswich.

With the league adamant the meeting it will not postpone the meeting, some club officials feel forced to attend under sufferance.

According to sources, a no-show would mean they could be fined £35.

Alan Gorham, Chief Executive of the SIL defended the league's refusal to move the AGM and stressed it had been planned for more than a year.

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Tongue-in-cheek he said: "Is there a match on then? How long have they planned it for? This meeting has been planned for more than a year at 7.30pm.

"How can I change it at 24 hours notice?" We have had the AGM on the fourth Thursday in June for the last 30 years."

When asked how many he expected to go along to the meeting Mr Gorham said: "I do not know how many people are coming, there are 75 teams and all are allowed to bring two representatives."

Mr Gorham refused to say whether teams would be penalised for not showing up at the meeting.

He said: "They will have to abide by the rules of the league."

And if they don't?

"That's my business not yours," he replied.

Derrick Bloomfield, general secretary of Needham Market Football Club, said he was annoyed he would have to miss the match.

"I am one of those who will be going to the meeting. Everyone there will have to miss the England match. I would have thought they could have done something about it."

Mr Bloomfield added he understood it would be difficult to let everyone know that the meeting was cancelled.

He said: "If you do not go you are fined. I feel I have to go."

Another club secretary, preferring not to be named, said: "Personally I like to see England win but I am not too bothered about watching it. I imagine a few of them there would rather not be going though."

Martin Durie, secretary to AFC Debenham, said a committee member from his club volunteered to go to the meeting.

Mr Durie said: "There is no way I would have missed the game but luckily someone has volunteered to go so we won't be fined."

Roger Osborne, a committee member for Westerfield United Football Club, said he would not have to go to the meeting but sympathised with those who did.

He said: "For someone who is an England supporter to have to go through with a meeting that could be held any other night of the week it must seem a bit strange.

"They normally expect people to go to the AGM. I suppose it is up to the people going to make it known they do not want to be there."

N Are you one of the people affected? Write in with your views to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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