A YOUTH football team has hit out at a Southend Manor’s chairman for disowning them at a cost of thousands of pounds and to the detriment of hundreds of youngsters.
Manor’s youth section have released a statement about a “dispute” with Steve Robinson, who took over at the Essex Senior League side at the start of the 2012 season from the long-serving Bob Westley.
Essex County FA have confirmed that Manor have told the youth section they are no longer allowed to carry the club’s name from the start of next season.
Manor say the matter will be discussed at a committee meeting this week and a statement will be issued if they feel it is appropriate.
It is a blow to the youth section, who have 24 teams operating from under-sixes to under-15s, as well as a mini-soccer school for three to six year-olds and a goalkeeping school. More than 400 young footballers will be affected.
A statement on Southend Manor Youth FC website addressed to parents, guardians, players and supporters, outlines their grievance, which the Echo understands could incur costs of up to £18,000 to replace the kit with new branding.
The statement says: “Our committee have worked tirelessly in battling this request, but unfortunately we have failed to retain our name.
“As such we are now going through the painstaking process of selecting a new name for our club.
“We are very keen to retain ‘Manor’ in the name and will be doing everything in our power to do so. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.
“As a result this will incur significant cost to SMYFC to replace ALL items of kit over the summer, including shirts, jumpers and jackets etc.
“We are well aware that we have a number of sponsors and parents that have generously donated money towards various items over the years and we would not expect you to contribute any further funds.”
The statement says that the youth team’s website and social media pages will be changed accordingly over the summer.
It continues: “Everything else will remain the same. Your club will still be here, your children will still play football for us every week and all the coaches and staff will continue to give up their spare time every week coaching your children.
“In fact if anything, this forced change will help the club grow bigger, better and stronger than ever before.
“We hope we will continue to have the support of every single one of you as we go through this re-naming process which, unfortunately, has been forced upon us by a certain person’s actions.”
The Echo invited Manor to respond to the statement, and the club’s secretary Peter Dudley spoke to Robinson, who said it will be discussed at a committee meeting on Thursday, March 6, and a response would be issued if members felt it was appropriate.
An Essex County FA spokesman said: “Southend Manor FC have instructed us that Southend Manor Youth FC are no longer permitted to carry the club’s name in 2014/15.
“We have met with a representative of the youth section of the club to discuss the possible options going forward.