Merger wasn't going to work, admits Erith Town chief

Sunday 11th July 2010
GENERAL MANAGER Ian Birrell announced yesterday that the cub have parted amicably with Dartford Town and the club will revert back to Erith Town with immediate effect, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Kent League club merged with local side Dartford Town during the close season with a new chairman at the helm.

Roy MacNeil, 55, said at the time: “This is a great opportunity now for the Dartford Town FC youth teams to progress into the Kent Youth League as the under 14s and under 15s.

“Furthermore, the senior team will be representing at Kent Premier League level and be competing in prestigious competitions such as The FA Cup and FA Vase with our home base being the stadium at Erith Town.

“All parents and boys from the youth teams are welcome to watch games at the stadium and are encouraged to come on a Saturday to watch home matches.

“All youth teams will play under the new name off Erith & Dartford Town FC as from next season in their respective leagues.”

It appeared to be the dream ticket for Dartford Town, who under the guidance of former Erith Town manager John Adams, had secured the South London Alliance FOURTH DIVISION title - arguably the lowest tier of English football.

It would have taken Dartford Town EIGHT more promotions to clinch promotion into the Safety Net Associates Kent League Premier Division, not taking into account the two reserve divisions of the Kent League.

Dartford Town ran the merged club’s website, which has now been taken off the official club website logos on the home page of the official Kent League club website.

And as of yesterday, Erith & Dartford Town was no more, as Mr Birrell explained to

“The plan was to merge and we did,” he said. “It was purely a merger, it wasn’t any sort of takeover or anything like that.

“It turned out that it’s not going to work out.  It doesn’t look like it’s going to work out and it’s not in the interests of either club, hence the de-merger.

“It’s probably going to be known now because the players have been advised and it seemed right that it should go on the Kentish Football website officially so that everyone knows because no doubt it will generate some sort of comment.

“It’s an amicable split, there’s no animosity and it just wasn’t in the interests of certainly Erith Town and I suspect Dartford Town as well.

“The plans unfortunately just fell through, that’s really it.  No more, no less.  It’s happened to clubs in the past when club’s merged and sadly it’s just not worked out.  That’s it really.

“We’re Erith Town again, the Kent League have been advised, as have The Football Association and the London Football Association, who we’re affiliated to.”

When asked who is the chairman, Mr Birrell confirmed: ““The chairman will revert back to Albert Putman.  He’s the chairman of Erith Town Football Club.  There’s no change in essence now to last season.  We’re still going to play at the (Erith Sports) Stadium, our first team and the reserves.”

Mr MacNeil had announced ambitious stadium redevelopment plans at Erith Sports Arena, Albert Road, that would be suitable to meet Ryman League ground grading criteria.

The founder of Dartford Town Football Club told in March: “There’s plans to have 250-300 seats covered, which is underway now and will hopefully be in place for next season and perimeter fencing to make it a three-sided ground rather than just the one side, which Albert Putman is putting in place at the moment, so it’s looking good for next season.

“I’m not sure of the exact amount, it’s in the region of between £35,000 and £40,000 for the stand, the cover.”

Despite Mr MacNeil’s departure, Mr Birrell confirmed the eagerly-awaited construction is still going ahead.

He said: “I can tell you we met with the council on Thursday night, (and we received) very positive feedback.

“We’ve got a draft contract to show our responsibility to the cover, it’s maintenance, etc, so we’re very optimistic that the necessary improvements will be through sooner rather than later, certainly during the course of this season.”