THE future of the West Riding County Amateur League is uncertain after merger talks with the West Yorkshire League have broken down.

Although the County Amateur League have had one meeting with the Yorkshire Amateur League, the latter have their own development plans over the next three seasons that do not include any merger with the County Amateur League.

The West Riding County Amateur League, which was formed in 1922 and has served 294 clubs, at the moment have only 15 clubs for the 2018-19 season.

County Amateur League results secretary Philip Rhodes said: “The FA suggested last November that we talk with the West Yorkshire League about forming something like a West Yorkshire ‘Super League’.

“But the West Yorkshire League refused to follow the FA proposal that the two leagues’ (County Amateur and West Yorkshire) premier divisions, both of which are at Step Seven of the National League System, run side by side and allow the County Amateur Division One sides to merge into the West Yorkshire League’s Division Two, and the reserve sides to play in the Alliance Division One. 

“Instead the West Yorkshire League proposed to the County Amateur League that all their clubs move over and play in a new Division Three, with possibly some of the top teams, be that the top two, three or four in the County Amateur League’s Premier Division, playing in Division Two. 

“Our clubs rejected this. Had the County Amateur accepted this proposal, and Steeton’s bid to play at Step Six next season failed, they would have had to wait at least three more seasons before they could have submitted another application. 

“Unfortunately, the West Yorkshire League let it be known that they would be open to applications from County Amateur League teams for next season, and five teams from four clubs – Campion Reserves, Salts, Salts Reserves, Tingley Athletic and Hunsworth – have been accepted by them for next season.”

Other clubs to leave the County Amateurs this summer are Wibsey and Golcar United Reserves (to the Yorkshire Amateur League), Overthorpe Sports Club (Wakefield League) and Britannia Sports (Huddersfield League).
Yorkshire Amateur League chairman Tony Lewis said in a statement: "You may have heard rumours or seen newspaper or social media reports that the Yorkshire Amateur League has agreed to merge with the West Riding County Amateur League – if not next season, then the season after.

"As your chairman, I want to firmly dispel those reports. The Yorkshire Amateur League have their own development plans over the next three years and these do not include any merger with the West Riding County Amateur League."  

The West Riding County Amateur League, whose annual meeting is on Tuesday, June 26 when clubs will be confirmed, will therefore operate just one division in 2018-19.

Rhodes added: “We could accept one more team to make it a maximum of 16 but we cannot operate with less than 14 and still be Step Seven.”
The West Riding County Amateur League had five divisions in its heyday without being a supply league, but ironically now that it is a Step Seven league it is limping along.

Silsden, Campion, Brighouse Town and Hemsworth Miners’ Welfare have all left the County Amateurs to take the step up to semi-professional status, and will be joined by Steeton in 2018-19.

They will play in the newly-formed Hallmark Security League (North West Counties League) Division One North.

Rhodes added: "We wish Steeton all the best. I thought Brighouse Town were a well-organised club but Steeton are the best organised club I have come across."