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FOOTBALL: Merger not an option for town rivals
2:00pm Wednesday 30th October 2013 in Non League
ABINGDON’S two leading football clubs have ruled out merging to boost their ailing fortunes, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.
With Town and United propping up the UHLSport Hellenic League Premier Division having accumulated just seven points between them from 33 games played, it raises the question of whether Abingdon can sustain two senior football clubs.
While Abingdon (population 36,000) is struggling, clubs in smaller towns around the country, including Alfreton (22,000), Fleetwood (27,000) and Nailsworth (5,000) have seen a far greater degree of success and popularity.
But although the prospect of a merger between United and Town has been mooted in the past, it is not something either club is keen to take up.
“It’s not an option,” said United chairman Debbie Blackmore.
“There’s a competitive rivalry between the two clubs and it can only be good for us both to have two local clubs vying for supporters and players.
“Years ago, we had about three meetings between the two clubs to look at the possibility of joining together.
“It was clear that we had the better facilities off the pitch and at the time they had the better ones on it and neither side would give an inch.”
Former Town chairman and lifetime supporter Phil Evans added: “Some years ago we did discuss it, but unfortunately I can’t see how it could be done.”
“They have a thriving social side over there surrounded by houses, whereas we’ve got a great ground and facilities but people just won’t come over the bridge to watch us.
“I think the only way it would happen was if someone held a gun to our heads and said ‘if you want to survive you have to do it’.
“At the moment, the club is surviving as it is. This is the sixth-oldest football club in the country and we’re not going to chuck in the towel easily.”
Evans also feels Abingdon has failed to support its local clubs.
“Abingdon as a town is not exactly renowned for its enthusiasm for football,” he said.
“A lot of new people have come to the town and they’re not interested in supporting their local football clubs.
“The whole town is struggling at the moment; just take a look at the town centre.
“How can we go asking for money from sponsorships and support when the town itself is struggling just to get by?”
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