SIL may lose senior status

SOCCER: A leading manager in the Senior Division today predicted that the Metaltec SIL will soon lose its senior status.Trevor Wardlaw, boss of Old Newton, fears that the Football Association will be forced to step in if the current shortage of match officials continues.

By Elvin King

SOCCER

A LEADING manager in the Senior Division today predicted that the Metaltec SIL will soon lose its senior status.

Trevor Wardlaw, boss of Old Newton, fears that the Football Association will be forced to step in if the current shortage of match officials continues.


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"The warning bells are there," he said. "I can understand why there is a lack of referees, as it is mainly because of the hard time they get.

"You cannot expect member clubs to accede to SIL rules on facilities – spending a lot of money in the process – and then find no linesmen appointed."

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Last month Newton played Ipswich Athletic in a game between the second and third teams in the top division and only one assistant referee was provided.

Last week Newton were at home to Stonham Aspal and had to provide four different club members to run the lines.

"Just before kick-off one had to rush away and take charge of our A team match because a referee never arrived," said Wardlaw.

"Then another pulled a muscle. There is such an acute shortage of officials that something has to be done.

"We have been along this road before and the SIL has to make a choice – either appoint referees in the lower divisions or linesmen in the Senior.

"If they do the former, then it will not be long before the league's senior status will be under serious threat."

The Kent Blaxill Border League lost its senior status at the end of last season. The SIL is well aware of the situation, and has organised special meetings around the area, with representatives from all member clubs invited to discuss the situation and improve player/referee relations.

The forthright Wardlaw sees no title race this season. "Walsham-le-Willows have made a dream start and I cannot see anybody challenging them. Ipswich Athletic look the only club who can make life hard for them."

Newton are currently third, and Wardlaw will be content with a top six place. "I have a re-vamped side and it will take time for us to gel," he said.

"The plan is to inch our way forward a bit at a time. We are outsiders for the title, but possibly dangerous ones. With a lively mix of youth and experience our dressing room is a good place to be.

"They are a rewarding team to manage, full of characters and there is more to football than just playing."

Newton travel to Haughley tomorrow with Wardlaw after his first win against them since moving from Stowmarket.

"It will be tough," he said. "Haughley are packed with quality players and are managed by Gary Nunn, who is by far the most successful Newton manager of all time.

"His one game, one win 100 per cent record will take some beating. Haughley had a player sent off after one minute last season and still beat us."

Walsham visit neighbours Stanton, while Ipswich Athletic are at home to Bramford United.

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