Luke Wallond leaves Staplehurst Monarchs United with a heavy heart after being denied promotion due to coronavirus outbreak
STAPLEHURST Monarchs United begin the search for a new manager after Luke Wallond stepped down after five years in the role.
The Headcorn Road outfit were sitting at the top of the Kent County League Premier Division table at the time of the coronavirus outbreak and have been denied promotion into the Southern Counties East Football League First Division for the first time after The Football Association declared non-league football from Step Three null and void with no promotions or relegations.
The club were seven points clear of Kings Hill with 10 league games remaining - and they also celebrated winning the Premier Division title the previous season but were denied promotion due to failing ground grading criteria to play in the tenth tier of English football.
“Being into football or not, a lot of people would have heard about Staplehurst Football Club and how far they have come in recent years,” Wallond said in a statement.
“Through commitment and determination, the first-team at the club have managed to win the league in the 2018-19 season and was on route to repeat this in the 2019-20 season.
“We have managed through a lot of hard work and effort to begin building a stadium for the community at Staplehurst, whilst bringing new people into our village.
“This was through months of hard work from myself, Gordon Reader the chairman, the management team and many more behind the scenes.
“We have spent hours in meetings, getting quotations, fighting for this stadium whilst having to change people’s views on what they thought about getting a stadium in Staplehurst.
“Unfortunately, The FA came to the Jubilee ground to inspect in the 2018-19 season and we did not pass grading with all the works we had carried out.
“We appealed and between our hearing completed the small amount of works that did not pass.
“Although we fought for our rightly deserved position, we did not gain promotion to the Southern Counties East Football League.
“Players, although deservedly being able to play in the Southern Counties East Football League, stayed committed to Staplehurst to try and win the league again and gain promotion.
“Staplehurst was on its way to winning the league again this year, being seven points clear but unfortunately due to the coronavirus we are unable to complete the league, which for everybody’s health and safety is the most important thing.
“Rightly or wrongly, The FA are not letting anyone go up and my players are now wanting to push themselves further and also deservedly attracting interest from other clubs so they are therefore wanting to play in the Southern Counties East Football League so can no longer commit to Staplehurst in the Kent County League.
“Due to all of the above, it is with a very heavy heart and with the intentions of keeping as many of my team together that I have spent five years building, I will be stepping down as Staplehurst manager and looking for a new club at a higher level if there is an option available.
“I wish everyone involved with Staplehurst the best and truly had hoped that The FA had looked at each league in a different way so Staplehurst could be going up and rewarded for all their achievements and so I could be staying at Staplehurst and continue to help grow the club for many more years.
“I would like to thank everyone at the club for all their hard work and backing they have given me over the years.
“I have gained some incredibly good friends and I wish Staplehurst all the best for the future and hope they can gain their place in the Southern Counties East Football League as soon as possible.”