ONE hundred and 20 years of Saturday football history looks set to come to an end in Wyre Forest next season.
Chiefs from the Kidderminster and District League have warned they will have to close the Saturday Premier unless there is a surge of new teams on the horizon.
At its peak, the competition boasted six divisions but has gradually decreased in size over the last decade.
Chairman Ernie Pyke has blamed a change in players’ attitude for the declining number of teams.
The rise of Under-21 football and irregular working patterns have also had a detrimental impact.
“We are all devastated by this news,” said a forlorn Pyke.
“It’s been coming for a while, the number of teams playing on a Saturday has steadily decreased.
“Attitudes have changed, young people today have a lot of other distractions to consider.
“They don’t want to get up on a Saturday morning and play because they have been in nightclubs until the early hours or have work.
“At the moment we have four teams who want to play in a Saturday division next season and the Worcester League has just three.”
Pyke also cited the cost of hiring a pitch from Wyre Forest District Council as a contributing factor.
Clubs from the district pay £64 a game to play, but prices for teams outside the area rose during last season from £71.50 to £85 and will go up to £89 from September.
As a consequence, one of the area’s biggest local football clubs looks set to fold imminently.
Wyre Forest FC do not wish to play on Sundays or move to West Midlands League, the first rung of the non-league pyramid, because of the extra costs and travelling involved.
The club is inviting former players and fans to attend a final home friendly match on Saturday to say goodbye (2.15pm kick-off).
Areley Kings are weighing up their options regarding where their senior side will continue to play.
Linda Collis, director of community well-being and environment, said: “Football pitches are very expensive for the council to maintain but the prices we charge clubs are heavily subsidised.
“Teams from outside the area use our pitches as their home ground as there are not pitches available in their own locality.
“The council does not think Wyre Forest residents should be subsidising teams outside of the district to the same extent.”The Kidderminster League will continue to run their Sunday divisions and cups.
Teams wishing to join the Saturday Premier are urged to call Ernie Pyke as soon as possible on 01299 823869.