Common hit back at critics

Little Common goalkeeper Jon Saunders punches clear during the 2-0 win away to Steyning Town last weekend. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Little Common goalkeeper Jon Saunders punches clear during the 2-0 win away to Steyning Town last weekend. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Little Common Football Club has responded to some critical comments it has been subjected to in the wake of Rye United’s demise.

Rye withdrew from the Sussex County Football League with immediate effect at the end of last week following an extraordinary general meeting.

A Common club statement said: “It was with great sadness that we heard of the news last week that Rye United has decided to withdraw from the Sussex County Football League.

“Both Clive and Pat Taylor have earned the utmost respect in the local football community for the tremendous amount of hard work that they have put into the club over the past nine years, particularly during the difficult time following the arson attack on their pavilion and changing rooms at The Salts (in August 2010).

“It is always difficult to understand just how much work goes into the running of a football club and the hours which they must have committed are unimaginable.

“Following this news, which broke last Thursday, our own club has been saddened to read the various comments on website forums, Twitter pages and in the local press regarding our implied involvement in Rye United taking the decision to withdraw from the Sussex County Football League.

“Unfortunately, as it quite often the case when such rumours start to circulate, the facts regarding our own club have been somewhat misleading and generally disappointing to read.

“There are very few people who are actually fully aware of our own ground grading issues and therefore understand the truth behind some of the allegations that have been unfairly directed at us. It is for that reason that the club felt it necessary to make this statement to prevent any further confusion over the issues raised.

“At the end of the 2013/14 season, despite finishing in a promotion position, our club was refused promotion after failing to meet the ground grading requirements for Division One.

“One of the criterion in which we had failed involved ground enclosure, with our temporary system being deemed unacceptable. Bearing in mind that the system we use is very similar to that used at Rye United, we therefore asked the question as to why it was not suitable at our own ground. We were even happy to adapt and change ours so it conformed with that of Rye.

“Having spent over £80,000 on ground improvements in order to try and meet the ground grading requirements, we personally believe that any club in our position would have asked a similar question at this stage. Our question remained unanswered and even a letter to the league’s grounds committee did not receive a response.

“At a meeting with the grounds committee last April we once again raised the question, to which we were told that special permission had been granted by the FA for Rye United to use the temporary enclosure and that we would need to contact the FA direct.

“Bearing in mind the fact that we had been advised to do this by the league’s ground committee, we decided to email the FA regarding the temporary enclosure.

“We must point out that at no stage did we ‘report’ or ‘complain’ about Rye United. After all, why would we? We wanted to be able to do exactly as they did in order to achieve our ambition of playing in Division One.

“We must also point out that it was not just Rye United’s temporary enclosure that we cited in our email, but also that of another club playing at step five.

“We hoped that we would be able to organise an inspection and agree a similar arrangement to that of the other clubs we had identified - after all, does it really matter whether an enclosure is temporary or permanent? We are the clubs that have to erect it every home match.

“However, the response to our email was not what we expected. It became apparent that the FA were not aware of temporary enclosures being used and had never knowingly awarded gradings for this.

“So whilst many may feel that we were deliberately stirring up trouble for Rye United, this was certainly not the case. We had followed the advice given to us and in doing so had exposed some untruths.

“As a club we do feel that we have been treated unfairly on a number of fronts, and have various documents and emails going back over a number of years as evidence to our claims.

“However, when we read people commenting on issues through various forms of social media that they have no understanding of and furthermore start to get personal towards our club and its members, we find this difficult to comprehend.

“As a club we will continue to seek advice and support on our own ground grading issues in the hope we can overcome these.”