CASH-STRAPPED Marlow United FC have resigned from the Hellenic League and gone back to square one.
United, who raced up the ranks to become the smallest club ever to compete in the FA Cup, have expunged their first team and their reserves and will now re-emerge in the Premier Division of the Reading Football League.
They quit the Hellenic League after struggling to find the £25,000 they needed to keep afloat every season.
Outgoing manager Kevin Carvell said: “Unfortunately it is all about money. It was costing £25,000 each season and that’s not the type of money that is easily found.
“It’s disappointing, but the most important thing is that we still have a football club.
“Marlow United was built up as a social club which became a very successful football club, and now it will go back to being a social club again.
“Football is all about money and sadly we didn’t have enough to carry on competing at the level the club rose to.
“The committee were always having to put their hands in their pockets and that couldn’t continue.”
In order to maintain the level of football that United had risen to they had to groundshare with a club that had the facilities that the Hellenic League required.
They spent seven years sharing at Flackwell Heath and that alone was costing them £6,000 per season.
Carvell said: “That’s a lot of money when you are only getting ten people through the turnstile at Flackwell every week.”
They tried to move back to Marlow itself but Marlow FC were not interested in letting them share their Oak Tree Road ground which would have satisfied Hellenic League ground regulations and enabled them to continue in that league.
United believed a move to Marlow FC might have safeguarded their future. They believe going back to their home town would have led to increased sponsorship opportunities and bigger attendances.
Chairman Alan Turner said: “We spent seven happy and successful seasons at Wilks Park but the harsh economic facts were that we were attaining gates of around 10-15 paying customers and a club such as ourselves with no other obvious revenue streams were simply finding things unsustainable.
“It became clear to us that moving to Marlow FC would have given us sponsorship opportunities that were simply not available playing out of Wilks Park and our gates would have risen to a reasonable level which would have produced a small profit for home matches.”
But Marlow, who are themselves hunting a new ground, did not want to accommodate them.
United will now return to their modest Gossmore Lane headquarters from where they began after exhausting other avenues.
Turner said: “We shall now regroup in the Reading Football League but we are not going away and we shall continue to pursue our aspirations that include climbing back on to the non-league pyramid ladder and returning to the Hellenic League at the first realistic opportunity.”
Meanwhile Carvell has quit the club. He has become the assistant manager of Hellenic League side Holyport where he will work alongside their new manager, ex-Marlow chief Derek Sweetman.