The League's Annual General Meeting took place today at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool. Representatives of 56 of the 60 member clubs were in attendance as well as the eight new member clubs that have been allocated to the league for the new season.
To open the meeting, League Chairman Paul Lawler welcomed all delegates at 11.00am prompt. After apologies were given, the minutes from the previous AGM were raised and adopted prior to moving on to the Chairman's Report.
The report from the Chairman said it was another great season for football. He said that average gates were well up on previous years, with clubs giving value for money with quality to match. We should be well placed to attract football fans from higher up the pyramid.
He then ran through successes of clubs. Vauxhall Motors won the Premier, with Avro also achieving promotion through the Step 4/5 Play-Off. He mentioned though how glad he was that the format has been scrapped with traditional play off's coming in. In the First Division North, Pilkington took the crown with Chadderton promoted in the Play Offs. In the First Division South it was Wythenshawe Amateurs who won it, with Cheadle Town promoted in the Play Offs.
Our last remaining side in tie FA Cup was Bury AFC, and Paul was very proud that we had three Quarter Finalists in the FA Vase. Well done to Bury AFC, Congleton Town and West Didsbury & Chorlton for their success in the competition this season.
Congratulations to Congleton Town and Bacup Borough on winning the respective league cups. Northwich Victoria won the Mid Cheshire Senior Cup, with Winsford Unitedas runners up. Credit to Congleton Town who became the first NWCFL side to win the Cheshire Senior Cup, and to Kendal Town who won the Westmorland Senior Cup. Also well done to Wythenshawe Town who were runners up in the Manchester Premier Cup.
Sadly we do lose clubs. As well as Vauxhall and Avro, we say goodbye to Cleator Moor Celtic, Foley Meir and Rocester who were relegated from the First Division. It is with much sadness that we say goodbye to both and hopefully they can return to us for 2023/24. To replace these we have eight new clubs, four from the Northern Premier League, three from the County Feeder League and one from hiatus. He then wished the new clubs all the best on their new journey,.
Then he came onto lateral movements. These come at a considerable cost, potentially putting their future in doubt. Winsford had to take voluntary relegation to secure the clubs future. With Uttoxeter getting a reprieve. This issue is one we have constantly raised with the FA. The lateral movement problem will not go away. Almost certainly, lateral movement end of 2023/24 from South Manchester sides or eastern sides. Current rules aren't fit for purpose and need changing.
Paul said behaviour on the field continues to be a problem, verbal abuse and incidents . Also record number of dismissals from the technical area. He asked clubs to read and digest the Respect and Fair Play reports produced by Stewart Taylor. The standard of administration from some clubs is poor and creates significant work. Our league is about respect and friendship which some clubs seem to have forgotten.
Administrative procedures were carried out which included adopting of standing orders, adopt the accounts for the financial year as well as reviewing the auditors report produced by Steve Conway. This technically concluded the league business for the 2022-23 season.
Next was the exclusion of clubs, which in a long-standing tradition at the NWCFL, was a chance to say goodbye. Avro thanked people for advice that they have been given, its been a great journey and that he hoped not to see us in 12 months time. Cleator Moor Celtic said that they had made good friends over the last four years, they are now dropping to the West Lancs and that he hoped to see us soon. Congleton Town said that they had had the best season for quite a number of years, that they looked forward to making friends in the Midland League and that they would miss us all.
Northwich Victoria echoed Congleton's thoughts, and said that it had been a tough few weeks. Its now a rebuild job and moving to the Midland League has put 149 years of football at stake. Finally Vauxhall Motors, who thanked the officers of the league for their help and to fellow member clubs for their hospitality and friendship. They then wished everyone all the best for the future, before all clubs left the room.
The constitution of the league was then agreed, with 24 clubs in the Premier Division, 19 in the First Division North and 18 in the First Division South. This is subject to any FA appeals. As Paul pointed out, we have no choice these days but to accept it as it is decided nationally by the FA! The eight new clubs were then accepted into the league with representatives from Colne, Droylsden, Glossop North End, Market Drayton Town, Route One Rovers, Ramsbottom United, Shelley Community, Skelmersdale United. All took to the stage to say hello and to give a bit of information about their clubs to the room.
The full make up of all three of our divisions at this present time is as follows:
AFC Liverpool, Barnoldswick Town, Burscough, Bury (formerly Bury AFC), Chadderton, Charnock Richard, Cheadle Town, Colne, FC Isle of Man, Glossop North End, Irlam, Kendal Town, Longridge Town, Litherland Remyca, Lower Breck, Padiham, Pilkington, Prestwich Heys, Ramsbottom United, Skelmersdale United, Squires Gate, West Didsbury & Chorlton, Wythenshawe (formerly Wythenshawe Amateurs), Wythenshawe Town
DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Blackpool, Ashton Athletic, Ashton Town, Atherton LR, Bacup Borough, Daisy Hill, Darwen, Droylsden, Euxton Villa, FC St Helens, Garstang, Holker Old Boys, Ilkley Town, Nelson, Route One Rovers, Runcorn Town, South Liverpool, Shelley Community, Steeton
DIVISON ONE SOUTH
Abbey Hey, Abbey Hulton United, Alsager Town, Ashville, Barnton, Brocton, Cammell Laird 1907, Cheadle Heath Nomads, Eccleshall, Ellesmere Rangers, Maine Road, Market Drayton Town, New Mills, Sandbach United, Stafford Town, Stockport Georgians, Stockport Town, Winsford United
The next item was the Life Members and the Election of Management Committee members. With the passing of Bob Eccles, the President position is vacant and we have had no nominations thus far. Four committee members were up for re-election who were Mick Ainsworth, Martin Fallon, Rob Goodwin-Davey and Chris Stirrup. All offered themselves for re-election to serve for a 3 year term will commence another period of office which will see them on the Management Committee until 2026. With no other nominations, all were duly elected.
We did have a vacancy during the season. With Sue Hyde's departure the committee co-opted Charlie O'Brien. With no other nominations, a show of hands in the room formally elected Charlie to the League Management Committee.
Administration for the new season was addressed with the FA Standardised rules reviewed and agreed. John Deal explained that we don't really have a lot of choice these days.One change for 2023/24 will be the introduction of a Match Arrangement Form similar to FA Competitions due to some disagreements in the past between clubs regarding admission prices.
The fees tariffs was agreed. The one change from last season being a small increase in assistant referee's fees. The fines tariff was agreed, with no changes made.
Next was confirmation of the League Insurance Scheme, and there have been no proposals for change there. This was followed by the re-appointment of auditors which was agreed.
The Chairman then closed the Official Meeting at 11.45am.