THREE consecutive relegations are something no football fan feels they should go through nor deserve.
Yet that is the prospect facing 2015 FA Trophy winners North Ferriby United, who now prop up the Evo-Stik Premier and are 15 points adrift of safety after plummeting from the top-tier of non-league football.
To compound matters, the club’s future has recently been plunged into doubt with the Villagers’ current owner, Carl Chadwick, and former owner, Jamie Waltham, applying to change the club’s name to East Hull FC and relocate the side 11 miles away to Dunswell Park.
Earlier this week, fans were greeted with news that the league had rejected plans for a ground move, although the club’s owners are understood to be appealing the decision at FA headquarters in London with a date yet to be finalised.
A decision on the club’s renaming has not yet been reached with the final say in the hands of the FA, but the league has advised against such a change.
It is unlikely the FA will go against the Evo-Stik Premier’s recommendation, and the move is a step in the right direction according to North Ferriby Supporters’ Club member Matthew Kempson, 41, whose petition against the changes has gathered almost 10,000 signatures, though home gates are now down at around 150.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves just yet because this is one piece of the jigsaw,” he said.
“We’ve led a positive campaign with the ‘Save North Ferriby’ activities, which included the petition and also the survey of members and people that rock up week in, week out to support North Ferriby.
“They were saying three things: no to the name change, no to the relocation and actually, if North Ferriby did relocate, they wouldn’t go to see that.
“We’re very pleased that the league have said that the relocation shouldn’t go ahead but also recommended the name change shouldn’t be progressed either.”
Kempson, who is also editor of the fanzine View From the Allotment End, added that the plight of the club in recent years has been a real challenge for fans, but taking United, who do not have a game this week, out of the local community would lead to a complete loss of identity.
“It would mean the end of North Ferriby United. That’s one thing I’ve made clear within the petition statement I put forward,” he said.
“North Ferriby United AFC would cease to exist at that point.
“We’ve got a great little ground that’s embedded in the community, we’ve got the Humber Bridge at one end, the railway line at the other end, we’ve got some allotments at the other end and a cricket pitch as well.
“I think we need to differentiate between the support for the team on the pitch and what they’re trying to achieve, and continuing to maintain that support and trying to see those glimmers of positivity, alongside the activity around the club at the moment.
“The campaign is making us stronger as a fan group.”
North Ferriby United’s club officials were approached for a comment but have yet to respond.