Ottery St Mary FC have pulled out of the Peninsula League East after a dire season saw them reap just three points.

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But the decision to leave the league was driven by finance - due to the the costs of running the 1st XI last season - and the club has also been fined by the Peninsula League for pulling out after the March 31 deadline.

Manager Mel Coombs resigned three weeks ago and is not intending to get back into football managment any time soon but to spend time watching his sons play instead.

League Secretary Chris Davey confirmed that Ottery have applied to join the Devon and Exeter League and the application was discussed by the league committee at a meeting last night (Thursday). Davey said: “If Ottery had been relegated, they would have automatically gone into our Premier division. But they resigned and, FA guidelines suggest they play two leagues lower, which would be our Division two or three.

The clubs will have to vote to accept them at the AGM on June 8. Turn to page 60

“Only once before have clubs voted not to accept an application.

“Our problem is that the constition has already been sorted out. Ottery St Mary had already applied to put a reserve team in the league, but then subsequently have just applied to put a first time in. We have 135 teams in nine leagues. Experience would tell me that one or two of those will pull out before the start of the season and that would let Ottery in.”

Ottery FC vice chairman Bill Hayes said: “For a number of seasons the club has had to manage a number of changes, most noticeably the instability of player numbers and commitment. This is not unique to OSMFC, but is an issue that specifically needed our attention, if the longevity of the club was to be maintained. Additionally, spectator numbers have dropped over the years, and planned income could not be guaranteed.

“Further to this, player costs would need to be increased in order to guarantee player numbers, and to ensure that a competitive team could be fielded. Last season we faced teams who were playing on a far higher per match budget than we could hope to compete with, and currently have no intention of doing so. And so, after long debate we elected to remove ourselves from the SW Peninsula league because of escalating and unsustainable costs.

“Going forward, this gives us great opportunity to place one, or two teams in the lower leagues and for more local players to join and enjoy playing football in an environment that is not choked by financial pressures. It also now gives an even better platform for emerging youth players wishing to carry on playing at senior level. And lastly, perceived savings will be put into the structure of the club and grounds to align it with future plans.

“We do not rule out looking to progress into higher leagues again in the future, but we will look to ensure that we have a sound financial and footballing base structure in place before we would look to do so.”

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