Kennington chairman Jon Lancaster: I would love to be able to give everybody SCEFL football but unfortunately at this present time we can’t!
KENNINGTON chairman Jon Lancaster says the club have hit a brick wall in their efforts to secure a groundshare agreement and the prospect of promotion to the Southern Counties East League.
He says approaches to around half a dozen clubs in the county have proved unsuccessful and admits their off the field problems have masked an impressive season on it, as they close in on their first Premier Division title.
The club had hoped a move to the Julie Rose Stadium in Ashford would be the solution, but that didn’t prove the case and while season-long rivals Greenways and Peckham Town have both applied to make the step-up, Mr Lancaster says Kennington are frustrated by being unable to progress.
“It’s been another rollercoaster season,” said the chairman in an interview with Andrew Gidley on www.kentcountyfootballleague.co.uk.
“In past years at the Julie Rose Stadium we have had the facility but not quite the team to win the Premier Division, this year we have the opposite.
“It’s been a well discussed subject for the past few months among us all and one which I can’t really see a resolution to unless things change.”
Kennington have won 16 of their 18 league games and are 12 points clear at the top of the Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Premier Division table.
“On the pitch we have been flying. We finally have a settled back four and a lot of energy in midfield,” said Mr Lancaster.
“We have a forward line boasting Joe Fisher, Tom Scorer, Carlum McLeod and Sam Conklin which is by far the best in the league and would score goals at a much higher level.
“Our goal difference shows we have improved a lot at both ends of the field with Dan Scorer and John Ovard assembling a brilliant squad, so the fact we are having trouble progressing is very disappointing.
“Most of our squad played for Kennington at a younger age so it’s a huge compliment to the junior set up at the club, which currently boasts 25 teams.
“Several of our under-18s have been part of the first team squad, making their debuts in senior football over the course of the season which bodes well for the future.”
“Off the field though we have struggled.
We had been playing at Julie Rose Stadium for three seasons along with our Kent Youth League side but encountered so many problems we were left with little choice but to leave a week before the season was due to start.
“The facility is fantastic and should be hosting a decent standard of football every week but we were fighting a constant battle with rabbit holes, and damage in the shot putt and hammer areas.
“Despite our best efforts to maintain the ground ourselves we were never on top of the situation and some weeks it became dangerous.
“We made the decision to return to Sandyacres which was our only option so late in the day and they have been very accommodating, giving us a decent surface to play on every week despite the constant battles with the weather.
“Over the last two seasons we have investigated several avenues which would allow us to progress.
“We have approached more than six clubs based in Kent regarding a groundshare but none have been able to accommodate us.
“We asked Julie Rose Stadium if we could make some changes at the stadium as the pitch needs lengthening but were never given any positive feedback and it fell on deaf ears. The stadium is an athletics venue which we appreciate but our revenue from pitch hire and spectators would surely have paid for any changes that needed to happen to allow us to play SCECL football there.
“So there’s the issue. We have a fantastic football team but no facility to progress.
“We need floodlights but apart from Julie Rose Stadium and Ashford United, they don’t exist so we have hit a brick wall in terms of progression.
“We feel as though we have exhausted all possibilities and are open to anyone who thinks otherwise.
“As Chairman and involved for over 40 years I would love to be able to give everybody SCEFL football but unfortunately at this present time we can’t!
“I hope all the players, members and supporters understand that we are trying everything to push the club forward, but at this moment in time it’s a struggle.
“Hopefully we will win the Premier Division and the situation will sort itself in the coming months to allow us to finally apply for promotion which the club deserves.”
Kennington are scheduled to play at home to third-placed Tudor Sports on Saturday (14:45), if the game escapes the current wintry blast.
Visit Kennington’s website: www.kenningtonfc.co.uk
Visit the Kent County League website: www.kentcountyfootballleague.co.uk