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Maidstone & District Football League scrap entry fees in bid to survive

Bosses at the oldest local football league in the country are scrapping entry fees in a bid to attract new clubs and save it from extinction.

The Maidstone & District Football League, founded is 1893, is in danger of folding at the end of the season unless more teams join.

It's limped along as one division of eight teams this season but that can't continue.

The Maidstone & District League needs new teams to survive
The Maidstone & District League needs new teams to survive

So committee members have come up with the idea of free entry to all clubs next season - new and existing - in the hope it will give the 125-year-old league a new lease of life.

Mick Brookes, the referees and fixtures secretary, says it could save clubs as much as £300.

He said: "We're the oldest league in the country and if we're not careful we're going to see the demise of the league by the end of the season.

"I'm trying to raise the profile to get new clubs in so we can bolster the league and make it a bit more competitive.

"So what we're offering is all new clubs and existing clubs, for next season there will be no charges for coming into the league.

"That means no entrance fees and no cup fees - we will absorb the running costs as a league."

"I know part of the problem is the money, not all of it, but it is 75% of it and by doing this it may encourage people to start thinking maybe they should try it and get a team together.

"It's about £150 to join the league and then there's separate fees for our two cups, so you're looking at perhaps £250, maybe £300 savings.

"That's quite a good start and I understand as well that new clubs can apply for a grant from the Kent FA so that's another avenue they can go down.

"I don't want the oldest league in the country to fall apart."

Mick Brookes is appealing for clubs to come forward and save the league
Mick Brookes is appealing for clubs to come forward and save the league

In an ideal world the league wants to double its numbers, which would also give the competition more credibility.

Brookes said: "We should be aiming for at least another eight teams, minimum, so then we could have have two divisions.

"At the moment with one division you've got three or four teams that are pretty good and three or four that are getting hammered every week.

"What we'd like is two divisions and then we can split those teams up and make it more fair and equal so it doesn't become demoralising.

"If we were to encourage more clubs and they could see how it was going, it would encourage others to come in as well.

"We are trying to promote football but it's not an easy thing to do."

Teams interested in joining the Maidstone & District Football League should email Mick Brookes on brookes.home@blueyonder.co.uk.

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