GROUND MOVE FROM THE WELFARE GROUND

 

17th August 2000 By DOUG THOMSONFrom the Huddersfield Examiner:

Big Emley switch to Wakefield confirmed

Optimistic chairman Peter Matthews today issued a rallying call to supporters as he confirmed Emley will play all this season's UniBond League home matches at Wakefield.

Matthews and his fellow management committee members have struck a ground-share agreement with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats Rugby League Club which involves the football club playing rent on a match-to-match basis, and the division of profits on all income taken at Belle Vue.

And UniBond League officials, who last month highlighted 14 major points of concern at Emley's current Welfare Ground, have given the green light to the switch, saying Belle Vue passes on all counts.

Having already played two of last season's League matches and friendlies against Halifax Town and Leeds United at Wakefield, Emley will be back there for their first home UniBond Premier Division match of the campaign against Spennymoor United on Bank Holiday Monday, August 28 (3.00).

And Matthews, who confirmed there would be further talks on a more formal arrangement between Emley and the Wildcats but that there was no question of a merger, said: "Clearly it will be an important day, and we want as many supporters to be present as possible."

Matthews, who confirmed Emley's Reserve team will continue to use the Welfare Ground and that the adjacent social club will continue to operate as normal, added: "I don't think there is any management committee member who given a realistic choice, would want to leave the Welfare Ground.

"But we don't have a realistic choice, because we cannot go forward if we remain.

"This has been a very difficult decision, and it's fair to say we have some reservations.

"The decision is based on a number of factors, one of which is our inability to attract either regular crowds of more than 300 or lucrative sponsorship deals.

"The reasons are many, but Emley's geographical location, poor public transport links and lack of modern facilities could be three of the main ones. 

 

12th July 2000 Huddersfield Examiner Report: By DOUG THOMSON

Emley share plan gets vital backing

EMLEY officials have been given the go-ahead to finalise plans to ground-share with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Belle Vue.

But president Peter Maude says any agreement with the rugby league club will involve first-team football only, and that there is no intention to move either the second team or the prosperous social club from Emley's current Welfare Ground base.

In theory Emley, who will play a plum pre-season friendly against Leeds United at Belle Vue on Thursday August 3, could be installed at Wakefield for the forthcoming UniBond League season, which starts on Saturday August 19.

But because the exact terms of the arrangement have yet to be thrashed out, and because another Emley members' meeting must be called to rubber-stamp any ground-share, officials of the two clubs will have to move faster than last night's stormy three-hour annual meeting, which left the stay-put lobby, led by former player and treasurer Granville Ellam, throwing accusations.

The two crunch moments came at the start and end of an evening in which the acrimonious ground-share debate overshadowed the alarming revelation of a 52,800 loss for the last financial year.

Deletion of the rule which states that the club must be based at the Welfare Ground was passed by 42 votes to 33, while a rival proposal that all Emley senior sides play at the club's current base was defeated by 38 to 22.

A rare annual-meeting appearance by the club's players, who are deemed members under Football Association regulations, undoubtedly swayed the vital votes - and infuriated those who oppose the ground-share plan and current committee, but have so far failed to put forward any candidates of their own.

"The meeting was a total disgrace," said Warwick Jepson.

"The players have never before attended the annual meeting, and on this occasion, it has been totally biased because of their presence.

"Complete disregard has been given to the local members who have brought the club success.

"We feel it's goodbye to all the good work and it seems Emley FC will now be taken over by outsiders."

Maude - who reiterated the club's fears that because of new ground-grading regulations, remaining at the Welfare Ground could result in relegation from the UniBond Premier Division - insisted: "As a management committee, we are trying to steer the club in its best interests rather than those of individuals."

Accountant Robert Cave said that while payments to players fell for the second season in a row (this time by more than 9,000 to 86,545) and the ground maintenance bill dropped from 29,930 to 17,523, the lack of a major transfer or FA Cup run, meaning a drop in gate receipts from 59,381 to 35,112, brought about the overall 52,809 loss.

"It's a situation which clearly cannot be sustained over more than a short period," he warned.

 

13th June 2000 Huddersfield Examiner Report: By LINZI NICHOLSON

Members keen to stay

SOME members at Emley would rather see their club drop to the Northern Counties East League than leave the village, it has been revealed.

Amid claims it costs 100,000 a season to run the club at UniBond level, former player and club treasurer Granville Ellam is proposing Emley should not leave the village to merge with rugby league's Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

After a two-and-a-half hour extra-ordinary members' meeting last night, Mr Ellam said: "The implication is that if Emley do not move to Wakefield's Belle Vue ground then the UniBond League could relegate us if we couldn't match their ground criteria.

"But I and many other members would rather see that happen, so there remains a football team in Emley for local players, rather than move to Wakefield and destroy an important village amenity."

Emley member Mick Pamment added: "At the moment we are losing 100,000 a year just to finish fifth in a desperately poor league - that's nothing short of financial suicide.

"The club are still living on money received from our FA Cup exploits with West Ham, but that will certainly not last for ever."

Emley, managed by respected Ronnie Glavin and famous for their FA Cup exploits, are considering leaving the village because UniBond regulations mean capacity at the Welfare Ground must be 3,000 within two years. To progress to the Conference, it would need to be 6,000.

Club secretary Richard Poulain said: "The club tries to achieve the best and highest standard of football that it can - that is what any ambitious sports club are all about.

"In an ideal world, that standard of football would be available to us at the Welfare Ground, but to achieve what we want we would have to expand, which we are unable to do at the present site because it would bring inherent problems for the village."

What are the Criteria for getting into the Conference?

This is the 1996 version (thanks to the Barrow AFC List).   I guess the criteria may be more stringent now:

Club to own its ground or have a minimum seven year lease.

Have a minimum capacity of 3000 with the potential to expand to 6000 (minimum Football League requirement).

Ground to be four sided.

Minimum height of perimeter wall to be 2.4 metres.

Main stand to have minimum of 400 seats and contain directors seating and associated facilities for directors eg boardroom.

Covered accommodation required for minimum 1000 spectators (includes main stand total).

Directors' seating for 24 home and 16 for away directors.

Segregated standing area required for visiting supporters.

Minimum of six turnstiles required.

Press facilities required for six people.

At the time the floodlights had to be 140 lux for Conference and 250 lux for the Football League.

There are also minimum sizes for other things such as dugouts and changing rooms as well as car parking spaces for directors and officials and number of toilets and food outlets.

The club have also to submit bank accounts and bank details to the Conference for inspection. The Conference may, if deemed necessary, also ask for a bond of UKP100,000.

 

23rd May 2000 Huddersfield Examiner Report: By DOUG THOMSON

Emley look set for Wildcats merger!

EMLEY'S plan to ground-share with rugby league club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats could become a merger.

Both clubs today admitted preliminary amalgamation discussions have been held in the wake of the Huddersfield non-League club's two test-the-water matches at Wakefield's Belle Vue ground.

But Emley chairman Peter Matthews insisted any merger, which would hinge on the UniBond League outfit taking on limited liability status, would not "sell the club short".

Emley are considering leaving the village whose name they have put on the national football map through their FA Cup exploits because the state of their cramped, three-sided Welfare Ground - shared with the local cricket club - means they could not progress any further up the soccer ladder.

Wakefield are keen on an amalgamation because it would open up new sources of finance to further improve a ground which has already undergone a 1m facelift as the club aim to secure their future in Super League.

As well as continuing improvements at Belle Vue and exploring the possibility of building a new stadium, the merged club would aim to set up a new training complex, with the Welfare Ground a possible site.

Ironically, Kirklees Council's refusal to pass plans for a training area adjacent to the ground helped set in motion Emley's blueprint to move in with the Wildcats.

Mr Matthews, who is adamant that the Emley title will be retained, said in a statement: "Our position regarding playing at Wakefield has been strengthened by establishing that should Football Trust and Lottery money be available for stadium development, it would be in both clubs' interests to pursue these lines of enquiry.

"If this proved correct, some form of merger or amalgamation may be an option, but we are at pains to stress that the Emley management committee will not sell the club short in hopes to achieve this.

"If this were to happen, Emley's current position as a members' club would have to be changed to become a limited liability club.

"This subject has already been broached to members, and it is anticipated that an extraordinary general meeting will be called some time prior to the annual meeting (on Monday, June 10) to sanction this move. Club rules mean seven days' notice is required to call such a meeting.

"All clubs have been urged by both the Football Association and the UniBond League that limited company liability is an option which should be seriously looked at in view of liability suits and clubs going bust in the last five years, because it does not expose members to financial losses."

Wildcats chief executive John Pearman said: "Agreement has been reached with Emley, in principle, to make the tentative experiment of the last few weeks into a permanent arrangement.

"The plans are subject to Wakefield Trinity being able to guarantee access to significant sums of grant money to enable further improvement to be made to our facilities."

 

27th Mar 2000 Huddersfield Examiner Report: By DOUG THOMSON

Club stalwart Jones backs Emley bid for groundshare

FEW players sum up the Emley spirit better than Simon Jones. So when the locally-produced left-back who takes as much pride as anyone in Huddersfield in the achievements of the town's top non-League club,
advocates a move to Wakefield, it's worth taking notice.


Emley, who hit the national headlines with their heroic FA Cup third-round display against Premiership giants West Ham two seasons ago, could become city slickers after 10 years as the UniBond League's only village club.
They are considering an offer to leave their current, cramped Welfare Ground to move in with rugby league club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, initially at Belle Vue, but with the possibility of becoming partners in a planned new stadium alongside the M1 at Ossett.


As Emley prepare for the first of two test-the-water matches at Belle Vue, a West Yorkshire derby against arch-rivals Frickley Athletic on Saturday (3.00), Jones urged: "If the club want to keep progressing, we have to make the move." Jones, in his ninth season at Emley after stepping up from District League
club Netherton, understands better than most how the club's location has played such an important role in their meteoric rise over the last 30 years.

"There's a definite spirit at Emley which other clubs don't have and which has been a real driving force for us," he adds. "I wouldn't want to lose that, nor would I want to lose the social side of the club.
"But the other side of the coin is that we've progressed out of all recognition, and rather than being a village club, I think we're now a club who play in a village.


"In many ways, we've outgrown our surroundings, and as people always say, if you stand still in football, you're effectively going backwards. "While we have clear and major problems in developing the Welfare Ground, Wakefield Wildcats have offered us a great opportunity to attain a stadium which would be good enough to take the club forward.


"In it's current state, the Welfare Ground might not even keep us at the level we're at." Jones, who must sit out Saturday's clash through suspension but plans to be available for the second trial game, against Spennymoor United on Saturday, April 22, believes the bulk of supporters will make the trip to Wakefield.
"While our hardcore fans have been superb, our attendances have dwindled over the years, and certainly aren't enough to meet the club's running costs.


"I think Wakefield is a real sporting city, but while there is a good standard of rugby league and union on offer, there is no football club at as high a level as ourselves."Hopefully, Wakefield people will want to come and watch us, and we could certainly do with the extra backing." In the long term, Jones would be delighted to end his playing days in a new stadium.


"That's the really exciting part of it all, and the Wildcats have given us an unbelievable chance to set up home at a state-of-the-art complex. "Their plans are very exciting, and I'm just hoping they become a reality
before I finish playing."

 

21st Jan 2000 Huddersfield Examiner Report: By DOUG THOMSON

Emley Fans to have say over Trinity move

EMLEY are to canvass fans at both the Welfare Ground and in Wakefield over their possible move to the city.
Chairman Peter Matthews was today meeting officials from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats over ground-share proposals, initially at the rugby league club's Belle Vue ground, then at a planned new stadium at Ossett.

But he told an 80-strong gathering at last night's quarterly meeting for supporters that talks were still at a preliminary stage, and that the club's full members, of which there are only 45, would have the final vote on any move.

Emley president Peter Maude, a former member of the UniBond League ground-grading committee, said the Welfare Ground is likely to fail on at least five areas of the new guidelines which are set to come into force
later this year.

"We have no separate hospitality facilities for visiting directors, our covered accommodation is borderline, we have no terracing at the Warburton end, there are no standard segregation facilities and the ground is not
four-sided," he explained.

"In addition, concerns have been raised about parking on matchdays." "There seems little doubt that the League will introduce far more stringent criteria on grounds, and we have to consider the possibility that we would be relegated to the UniBond League First Division because our ground is not considered up to Premier Division standard.

"That would obviously have a knock-on effect on our ability to attract players and supporters and the worst-case scenario would be relegation back to the Northern Counties East League."

Mr Maude insisted, however, that any move would be very carefully considered.

"With regard to the planned new stadium, there are three crucial criteria, location, costs and constitution, and any one of these could prevent the project being viable.

"In addition, we want to carry out some detailed market research in the Wakefield area, and we will also produce a questionnaire so our current loyal supporters can make their feelings known."

 

11th Jan 2000 Yorkshire Post Report: Ian Appleyard and John Ledger

Discussions with Wildcats offer Emley grounds for achieving ambition of reaching Football League

AMBITIOUS Emley are considering a move to nearby Wakefield to realise their dream of playing at Conference and eventually Football League level.


The UniBond Premier Division side have opened negotiations about joining Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at their proposed new stadium at Ossett close to junction 40 of the M1.That stadium will not be available until October next year at the earliest but Emley, who lie just off the UniBond promotion pace, are prepared to join the Super League club at a revamped Belle Vue to achieve Conference status.
 


The Wildcats have already secured a ground-sharing agreement with Wakefield's rugby union, hockey, squash and tennis clubs and had hoped to involve Ossett Town in their plans. However the West Riding County Amateur League club's members rejected the move by a narrow margin, leaving an opening that Emley have jumped at the chance of filling.


Emley have been unable to upgrade their existing Welfare Ground home because of objections from local residents and the proximity of the village's cricket club, while nearby streets simply cannot cope with the added traffic congestion prompted by bigger crowds.


Emley's chairman Peter Matthews would prefer to keep the club in the village but admits that talks with Wildcats' officials have taken place. "The Welfare Ground does not meet Conference standards never mind the Football League's," he said. "Whenever we talk about improvements we come up against obstacles. As a result, we are now looking at all alternatives and we have held talks with Wakefield Trinity."


After reaching the FA Cup third round two years ago where they were narrowly defeated by West Ham United of the Premiership, Emley's committee accepted that it was time to raise the club's sights after treading water in the UniBond League. Matthews, naturally, would like to think that Emley can reach the Football League within the next five years.


"The FA Cup proved that we can compete at a higher level and we are no different to any other club in wanting to move things forwards," he added. "But we need to lift restrictions to make progress possible. We are looking at all alternatives."


Emley's average home crowd is 300 but a move to Ossett would not cause many problems for supporters.
The talks with Emley have led to the planned public inquiry into the development being delayed until April and put back the earliest completion date to next autumn.


Wakefield, who insist their move to a new stadium is not reliant on a partnership with a football club, last month announced plans to spend upwards of 2m on upgrading facilities at Belle Vue, including the erection
of temporary stands, hospitality boxes and new corporate facilities.


Both Emley and Wakefield are likely to issue a full statement of their intentions early next week.

 

Huddersfield Examiner Report:By DOUG THOMSON

Football club which put village on the map plans to leave

EMLEY football club which hit the national headlines with its FA Cup exploits could quit the village it helped make famous.

The club is considering a bold plan to leave the Huddersfield area and set up home with ambitious rugby league club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

Talks are under way between the two parties which mean Emley could join forces with Wakefield - Super League rivals of Huddersfield and Sheffield Giants - to create a new stadium in Ossett.

Emley, which pushed Premier League giants West Ham all the way before going down 2-1 in a memorable FA Cup third-round tie in London two years ago, could move in to Wakefield's current Belle Vue base while a proposed new ground on green-belt land by the M1 is under construction.

Part-timers Emley, members of the Huddersfield and District Football League until 30 years ago, have built themselves into one of the top clubs in the Northern Premier (UniBond) League, just two rungs away from the Football League.

But the state of their cramped, three-sided Welfare Ground home - shared with the local cricket club - means they could not progress any further up the soccer ladder.

And if a tougher Football Association ground grading system comes into force as expected, they could even be banned from playing in the UniBond League.

Lack of funds, difficulties with the deeds and problems gaining planning permission for various projects, most recently the creation of a floodlit training area, have made redevelopment of the Welfare Ground an unrealistic option.

By moving to a thriving and populous area which has no senior football club, Emley, whose average attendance this season is a meagre 350, believe they could also attract larger gates.

"Nothing is concrete, but moving to Wakefield is an option and talks are ongoing," confirmed Emley chairman Peter Matthews.

"As things stand, we will have problems when the FA bring in the new ground grading system.

"Wakefield have exciting plans to move to a new stadium and, in the meantime, I'm sure Belle Vue would easily meet the standard required.

"The other attraction is that at the moment, we are in the shadow of Huddersfield Town, whereas Wakefield has no senior football club."

Go-ahead Trinity, who made bold bids to sign New Zealand's juggernaut rugby union star Jonah Lomu and former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio this winter, are awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry into their stadium plans.

The initial blueprint also involved Wakefield Rugby Union Club and Emley's UniBond League rivals Ossett Town.

The latter have since pulled out of the scheme while the rugby union club, who have few assets, are reported to be considering a merger with neighbours Sandal.