Elmore set to quit Western League to join South West Peninsula League Premier Division
ELMORE are seeking to quit the Western League First Division at the end of the season, having applied to join the South West Peninsula League.
The Eagles have applied to enter at Premier Division level, which is step six on the non-league football ladder and the same at which they currently play in the Western League – where they have been for the last 34 years.
Manager Pete Buckingham says the quality of facilities in the Peninsula League is a key factor in the decision.
"I have been a player and a manager in the Western League for 30 years and beyond," said Buckingham, whose side's match at home to Chard Town on Tuesday was postponed.
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"I managed Bideford in the 1990s for six seasons, I did Elmore for nine. I went to Barnstaple for three and Willand for one.
"I then went to Cullompton (in the Peninsula League), because I wanted a change and I have to say I was impressed with the facilities of the Peninsula League.
"The league has grown in stature. The ground facilities are way beyond what I'm experiencing in the Western League First Division."
Elmore football chairman Jed Hewitt also added that the Peninsula League is better suited to Elmore in terms of travel.
"Geographically speaking we would have more local teams to play," said Hewitt. "In Division One of the Western League we are the only Devon side. A lot of our journeys are Bristol-orientated. Going into the Peninsula League brings in sides like Cullompton, Witheridge, Bovey Tracey and Exmouth (if they get promoted).
"Obviously there is travelling to Cornwall, we appreciate that, but there is less travelling overall and more local derbies."
Elmore – who travel to Westbury United on Saturday (3pm) – joined the Western League Division One in 1978, winning promotion to the Premier Division in 1991 with a second-placed finish.
However, having been relegated in 2004, Elmore have not been able to get above 10th place, and Hewitt believes it is time for a change.
"We have been doing it for a few years so we are used to it, we know what it costs us, but there will certainly be a saving in travel costs," he said.
"I'm fairly confident our gates will be bigger as well. When you look at the gates on the Peninsula League website they are generally higher than in the Western League."