THE Worthing & District League and the Brighton, Hove & District League are set to merge for next season.
With a dwindling number of clubs in membership, and repsectively with 25 and 22 teams ahead of the current season, the Worthing League and the Brighton League agreed to form a combination Premier Division, with Worthing having only four survivors in their top division.
Now, with the prospect of a further decline in numbers, a full merger has been agreed for next season following two separate meetings of both leagues at the Sussex County FA headquarters on February 26 and March 11. The new league will be known as the Brighton, Worthing and District League.
Brighton had no fewer than ten divisions for four seasons from 1972 to 1977 and, while Worthing have never exceeded five, they were obliged to drop from four to three in the summer of 2008 after a period of 44 seasons.
The Worthing League was formed in June, 1921, as a result of the efforts of teenage Worthing Gazette reporter, John Chillman. Initially the Worthing section of the Brighton League, although with is own officers, committee and accounts, it became the Worthing & District League after two seasons in 1923-24.
There were further links with Brighton in the last four pre-war seasons and, after the war up to 1955, with the Worthing League having a junior East Division comprising only Brighton area sides.
Worthing had 38 teams before the start of the 2008-09 season, hence dispensing with Division 3 and, though the number increased to 40 just 12 months later, this fell to just 33 before play commenced with the loss of seven teams.
Worse still, during the summer of 2014, no less than nine sides folded, including Premier Division clubs KSG Chaplain Athletic (previously GSK Sports), plus their reserves, and L&S Athletic, also the top two Division 2 teams. Not only was this due to a shortage of players but through having no one prepared to manage a side as well.
The Worthing League Charity Cup and Mike Smith Trophy finals will be played at Worthing United.
They were due to be staged at Rebels’ Woodside Road ground but have had to be moved as Worthing will be installing a 3G pitch shortly after their final game of the season on April 18.