AN EMERGENCY meeting has been called to try and save one of Torbay's longest running football leagues – after only three teams came forward for the new season.
The Torbay Sunday League has been running since 1967, but chairman John Hockin said that unless at least five more teams sign up, it will not be run this season.
An emergency general meeting has been called for August 13 in Paignton, with Hockin appealing for new clubs to come forward and sign up for the ailing league.
Only three teams turned up for the league's AGM last week – Spartans FC, Old Brewery FC and the Sportsmans Arms FC – with the rest of last season's teams not expected to compete.
Interest from teams who were looking to join this season has also evaporated.
Hockin said: "Let's put it this way – the bulk of the teams that were with us last year have folded or ceased to be.
"The problem I believe is that there are a number of factors – there's the volunteer force, as nobody wants to run a club, there's a cost involved.
"When you take the cost of a kit into it, you can be talking an outlay of £1,000-plus.
"If a team wants to step up there are so many teams who have folded that they would be only too pleased to sell their kit.
"There's also the other side of the coin, that with the six or seven-a-side leagues on offer, you can play every night of the week.
"We were formed in 1967 and so it would have been 50 years in 2017."
Hockin is hoping to lure new teams by waiving certain fees or even reviving former clubs' names in order to avoid new admin costs.
"To avoid expense for arguments sake, you could have a team formed that take the name of one of the defunct teams which would avoid admin fees," he said.
"It would probably only be about £50, but we were thinking of waiving that to try and attract clubs."
Hockin said even if money was not the issue, there was a lack of administrators – people behind the scenes who kept clubs going.
"You still need that individual who says 'I will take it on and become a secretary and do all the paperwork'," he said.
"The secretary of each club is the focal point from the league's perspective and from the county perspective too – if there's any correspondence it goes directly to the secretary.
"There needs to be someone who is willing to take on all the responsibility – but people don't seem to want that."
He added: "There was one time when you had 24 clubs running across two divisions but for the last couple of seasons we've been running with just the one division.
"I don't think it's something that the league has brought on itself, as even the Saturday football leagues are struggling.
"If we have five teams come forward then the league will stay up and running, but if we don't then Sunday League football in Torbay will become a thing of the past.
"Perhaps, if there's a change in the economic climate in 12 months' time, we might rise like the phoenix."
The EGM is being held on Tuesday, August 13, at the Noah's Ark in Paignton (7.30pm), where interested teams can attend.
Alternatively, register a team or find out more information by contacting chairman John Hockin on 01803 313059 or secretary Simon Wallace on 01803 201129.