Lancers apply to join Ryman League

Action from Lacing's victory over Littlehampton on Saturday
Action from Lacing's victory over Littlehampton on Saturday

MARTIN GANDER feels Lancing Football Club have nothing to lose by applying to join the Ryman League for next season.

Lancers are flying high in the Southern Combination League Premier Division this season and sit fourth in the table, two points behind leaders Horsham, who have two games in hand.

Lancing chairman Gander admits that the club would struggle financially if they were to go up into the Ryman League but thinks it is something the club should aim for.

Only the top two are eligible for promotion into the Ryman League and Eastbourne Town, Horsham, Horsham YMCA, Loxwood and Newhaven have also applied to go up from the SCFL.

Gander said: “A few years ago we went for it and finished second but we didn’t get the ground grading.

“We’re doing well this season, which is why we’ve applied. It would be horrible if we were to win the league or finish in the top two and we hadn’t applied.

“We don’t pay anything here, not a penny, so there’s no pressure to finish in the top two but Ash (Bailey; manager) is doing a fantastic job with his coaching team.

“If the opportunity to go into the Ryman League came along, financially, we would struggle without a doubt.

“However, if the opportunity for promotion comes along, you have to take it. We know it would be very hard for us, on and off the pitch but it’s something you have to go for.”

After Culver Road failed a ground grading inspection for the Ryman League when Lancers applied in 2012, Gander said: “From what I know, it would be very disappointing if it wasn’t good enough to go up now.

“It would be fantastic to go up but we’d have to finish in the top two and I certainly wouldn’t put that pressure on the players or manager.

“If we keep playing the way we have been, it’s a possibility as we’ve got a great side. As a team, I think it’s better than the one that finished second when I was manager, in terms of it’s a very strong, together squad.”

Gander admitted Lancers would need more sponsorship in the Ryman League and said: “To do well in the Ryman League, you have to pay but we couldn’t afford to without the financial input from sponsors.

“If we went up, we’d give it a good go but when you start asking people to travel around the M25 on a Tuesday night, things are totally different.

“We’d go into it eyes wide open. We know we’d probably struggle, but we’d give things a good go. Even if we were in the Ryman League for just a season, it’s better than playing at a lower level.”

Gander said it would be a massive jump for whichever teams go up and said: “You have to look at the likes of Worthing and Burgess Hill, who have done a fantastic job of playing in the Ryman League.

“Worthing have a number of good youngsters and are having a cracking season. We’d look at them as a role model, with the way they bring young players through.

“If we go up for a season or two, it would be fantastic but we’d hope to stay there for a long time.”

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