THE Northern League is to be sponsored by County Durham-based dehumidifier manufacturer Ebac Ltd for the next five years, writes MALCOLM PRATT.
The sponsorship is worth £200,000 and, at the annual meeting in Northallerton, chairman Mike Amos claimed that the deal capped a wonderfully successful season, capped by Dunston UTS’s FA Vase win at Wembley against fellow Northern League club West Auckland.
He said: “We are on a real high and this sponsorship gives us a fantastic platform on which to build for the benefit of all our clubs.”
Ebac chairman John Elliott said he was proud and delighted to be involved.
“I was born and raised in South Durham and know how much Northern League football means to communities in the North East,” said Elliott.
Next season promises to be competitive with 46 clubs – the highest number ever – competing in two divisions.
Durham City and Darlington have been placed in Division One by the FA, although Darlington are appealing against being demoted four divisions.
If their appeal fails, there will be 24 sides in Division One and 22 in Division Two, including Ryhope CW, who replace relegated Easington Colliery.
Another change announced at the annual meeting was that the Carlisle-based side Gillford Park are now known as Celtic Nation.
Sunderland RCA secretary John Wilson raised the question of the league’s “secret shoppers”. The league management committee are proposing that unannounced visits will take place at grounds to check on obscene language and offensive behaviour.
“We disagree that someone doing this at our ground should be there in secret,” said Wilson. His view was shared by Esh Winning and North Shields and Amos said the views of the clubs would be taken into consideration and that a further meeting will be held before the scheme is introduced.
First Division gates increased for an eighth successive season to an average of 166. Whitley Bay had the highest figure of 405, while the biggest attendance was for the crucial end-of-season clash between Spennymoor and Dunston UTS, which attracted 661 fans.
Amos claimed though that Second Division figures were worrying. The average was only 64 and many gates were fewer than 20.
“I personally would like to experiment with staggered kick-off times to avoid Premiership games on foreigh television, but the management committee doesn’t agree”.
The Cleator Cup clash between Division One champions Spennymoor and Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup winners Team Northumbria will be played at the Brewery Field on Tuesday, August 14.
The season commences on Saturday, August 18.
Officers re-elected unopposed: president George Courtney, chairman Mike Amos, secretary and treasurer Tony Golightly, registration secretary David Robinson, referees’ secretary Alan Powells.
Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup, first round draw: Washington v Esh Winning, Celtic Nation v Brandon United, Whitehaven v Hebburn Town, Stokesley SC v Tow Law Town, North Shields v Morpeth Town, West Allotment Celtic v Chester-le-Street, Guisborough Town v Thornaby, Norton v Whitley Bay, Dunston UTS v Shildon, Penrith v Durham City, Consett v Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland v Ashington, Crook Town v Sunderland RCA, Horden CW v Darlington RA.