Towards the end of last season Toolstation Northern Counties East League Division One club AFC Emley entered into a….
….groundshare agreement with Wakefield FC, who were relegated from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, for season 2014/15.
In the past few days Wakefield FC has indicated to the FA and the league that the club will not compete next season and the holding company Wakefield Football Development Limited will be wound up.
Clearly, this news has implications for AFC Emley. In the interests of transparency and to answer as many questions as possible about the situation from an AFC Emley perspective, below is a narrative of events.
AFC Emley was approached by Wakefield FC to discuss a possible groundshare in early April 2014. Wakefield had already resigned from the Northern Premier League as they could not secure a ground with a suitable grading by 31st March to continue in the competition.
They had been afforded a week’s grace to find an alternative suitable ground to enable them to compete in the NCEL.
At the time, it was clear AFC Emley faced a financial gap for the following season. This was due partially to the main club sponsor scaling back its investment in the club.
It was also clear they were effectively Wakefield FC’s last hope for survival.
With no desire to be the club to put another club out of business – even Wakefield FC, given the acrimonious departure of the original Emley AFC from the village – the committee unanimously agreed to the groundshare.
It then required substantial time and effort over the course of just a few days involving the officers of the club and Emley Moor Miners’ Recreation Ground & Institute trustees, with assistance from the NCEL, to get the agreement finalised and signed in time for the extended deadline of April 4th.
Given the time-frame involved, it was impractical to gain formal approval from club members.
It was a marriage of convenience. Wakefield FC survived and AFC Emley would receive funds to keep the club going in its current form whilst new sponsors were sought.
Later in April, Wakefield FC attempted to renegotiate the figure they had agreed to pay for the groundshare. AFC Emley rejected that idea as, after taking into account extra costs etc., it would have reduced the financial benefit to virtually zero.
Wakefield FC then asked AFC Emley to merge in time for the coming season. The AFC Emley committee immediately and unanimously rejected the suggestion.
By now, alarm bells were ringing but over the next few weeks the club were reasonably assured that Wakefield FC would honour the original agreement.
However, three days after the league AGM, where they were confirmed in the NCEL Premier Division, Wakefield FC’s chairman informed AFC Emley he was stepping down and was negotiating with a potential successor.
At the same time, an article appeared in the Huddersfield Examiner speculating on a Wakefield FC/AFC Emley merger with several quotes from the Wakefield FC chairman.
Given the uncertainty created by the Wakefield FC chairman’s departure, the club issued a short statement to reassure supporters than no merger discussions had taken place.
On June 21st, the NCEL and FA were informed by Wakefield FC that they would not compete next season and the club was likely to be wound up.
AFC Emley now face a financial challenge for season 2014/15 but, with the help of supporters, other interested parties around the area and the wider football community, the club are confident there can be football at Emley for the foreseeable future. It is already working on generating additional revenue from a number of sources.
However, to assist the club in the short-term, it is calling upon Emley supporters old and new, to consider joining as a club member and for local residents to consider a membership or a small donation to the club.
Whether locals like football or not, without AFC Emley, there would be serious repercussions for The Welfare Ground and with it the very character of the village.
And to businesses near and far, whatever your budget, think about how you could support one of the most famous village football clubs in Yorkshire, if not the country.
It is hoped the above reassures everyone that the club committee, in the name of all members, have tried to do the right thing by AFC Emley, by the village of Emley and by the integrity of non-League football.