Wednesday, June 01, 2011

First Close Season Casualty - Leigh Genesis

Taken from the Leigh Genesis Message Board - courtesy Matt Lawton ...

"With the withdrawal of the club’s application to join the North West Counties League for next season, it has now been confirmed that Leigh Genesis FC will no longer operate at semi-professional level. With an interim emergency home in Atherton, Genesis were once again left looking for a suitable home in their home town but found little success. Having been evicted from their promised new home at the main stadium at Leigh Sports Village, the club spent last season at Atherton LR’s Crilly Park but suffered a dire season on and off the field with drastic falls in gate receipts alongside pitch and drainage problems and electrical faults that were mainly caused by regular break-ins at the Spa Road ground, despite the best efforts of both LGFC and Atherton LR. ...

Genesis, who now have 30 junior teams and a full-time youth programme attached to it were hoping to return to Leigh Sports Village to share with Leigh Athletic FC at Leigh Harriers athletics’ ground, but that option has been unsuccessful and no other suitable venues available, the club were left with no option other than to withdraw their application to join the North West Counties League following last season‘s relegation from the Evo-Stik League First Division North.

Manager Alan Kershaw was understandably disappointed with the news after taking the reigns partway through last season and blooding several youngsters in to first team action.

“This is incredibly disappointing. With a bustling junior section and 30 full-time youth players affiliated to the club, we have the most amazing foundations and it is difficult to understand why Leigh Genesis can’t play in Leigh and cannot be given the base that it deserves.”

Kershaw himself attended the first of six LGFC Junior presentation nights last weekend with 300 people in attendance, while Leigh Genesis Under 11's even made an appearance at Bolton Wanderers’ Reebok Stadium at the weekend where they won the Players Cup Final in the most prestigious event in the club's junior history.

Board members of the Club are clearly feeling exasperated. Even the assistance of Leigh MP Andy Burnham wasn’t enough to find a solution for the club to continue operating it’s senior side.

“This is an absolute disgrace” said secretary Mary Croasdale. “We left Hilton Park in 2008 on a long standing promise by the council that Leigh Sports Village Stadium would be our permanent home, but the original promises seem to have been ignored and financial gain has overtaken the original ideal of a ‘community stadium’ for the town. Blackburn Rovers Reserves play all their home matches at the ground and do not seem to struggle getting a lease at the ground, whilst the town's own team is given the cold shoulder.“

“Maybe Wigan MBC should look at the success of Chorley this season who have enjoyed record crowds and secured promotion, all from the back of a supportive council, not to mention the coaching team, several board members and the majority of the playing staff that was in place at Leigh last season! I’d like to say well done Chorley for embracing your team and recognising the potential for growth and most tellingly the benefits that can be brought to a town’s credibility and economy with a successful side.”

“One of the most aggravating aspects of the club’s trials with the LSV was the stadium company turning down £400,000 of funding towards the massive cost of the project. This funding was obtained through the club via the Football Foundation but was never handed over to the stadium company as LSV chiefs would not assure the Football Foundation that Leigh Genesis would be playing there for the next 10 years. Surely any short term financial hardship would have been cushioned by this amount? And who is filling that shortfall now?”

Matt Lawton, secretary of the Leigh Genesis Supporters Association and also the club’s press officer was equally downcast by the news.

“I and many others have enjoyed supporting the club over the years and will enjoy memories that will last a lifetime, and it’s such a shame that the club has been left with no option but to call it a day at senior level because of the issues that all stem back to not having our own home ground. Since leaving Hilton Park, it’s been virtually one huge nightmare, despite the club and it’s supporters trying to make the best of a bad situation. Let’s be honest, you don’t expect to outlive the football club that you support, do you?”

Croasdale finished; “The club has been praised by the Evo-Stik League and FA this season for it’s efforts in keeping going in such difficult circumstances and indeed it was shortlisted in the final five nominations for two major FA awards this year. The club continues to hold the respect of the league, the FA and its rival clubs but sadly this does not reflect in its treatment closer to home.”

The club directors would like to thank the club’s hugely dedicated supporters for their help, understanding and vast amounts of time, money and effort that have been donated over the years and only wish that circumstances could allow the club to continue at a senior level. Leigh Genesis Juniors will continue to operate as normal and carry on providing expert coaching to hundreds of children in the area and are wished the very best of luck for the future."

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