Football: Two Sussex League clubs start merger talks

BARNHAM and Wick are in the early stages of discussing a merger.

The Mill Road outfit are flying high in Sussex League division three but have been told their ground will stop them progressing any further in the league.

Wick have struggled to maintain a side, management team and committee since being relegated from county league division one two years ago.

Now, with both clubs having fears over their future, officials have been speaking about joining forces to ease their problems and run as one outfit from Wick’s Crabtree Park ground.

Barnham secretary Terry Gaunt said talks were taking place over the merger, and that the club’s inability to rise above county division three at their Mill Road ground was a key factor.

But he stressed: “It’s all still at a preliminary stage.”

Wick chairman Keith Croft confirmed talks were ongoing although any concrete decision was still quite a way off.

He said: “The clubs have spoken about it but we have been talking to everybody and anybody about what we are going to do.

“There is nothing really concrete in it at the moment, but we are hoping it will lead to things being better for both clubs.

“They have had their problems with the league regarding their ground and we are struggling with people to help out, so hopefully we can make a good thing out of a bad one.

“Things have been very positive so far but we are still in the very early stages. We have spoken to the league and the FA, but we have got to get our houses in order and take it from there. We’re not too far down the path, yet.”

Croft is still angry over Wick’s relegation on ground-grading issues two seasons ago - especially while some other teams are still playing in leagues without the required gradings - and feels this has led to their recent struggles.

But the hopes are that this will improve both clubs’ fortunes and advice has been sought from the Sussex League and the FA on the next steps - and there are reportedly positive murmurings from county FA HQ.

OLLIE BERRY