CIRENCESTER TOWN will contest next season’s Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South and West after their relegation from the Premier Division, writes Danny Hall.

The prospect of dropping a further level by choice to the Hellenic League was discussed at an open public meeting in the club last week attended by manager Brian Hughes, fans, committee members, sponsors and a sprinkling of players.

Chairman Steve Abbley hosted the forum and left it to the room to decide at what level the club wanted to play their football next season.

The unanimous view was that they should remain in the Southern League, even though Abbley made it perfectly he was no longer prepared to bail out the club financially as he had done in the past.

“I said 16 years ago when I became chairman that I would never bankroll players’ wages,” said Abbley.

“For the last two seasons I have gone back on that and spent £60,000 each year. I am no longer prepared to do that.

“I am more than happy, however, to keep putting money into assets for the club that everyone can enjoy.”

With dwindling gates – down to a seasonal low of 61 for the match with Arlesey in March – there is little prospect of financing the club through the turnstiles, so fans have pledged to organise more fund-raising events and to seek out commercial backers like current shirt sponsors Ssangyong and the Cotswold Efficient Energy Centre.

Hughes is happy to continue as manager though the chairman admitted he would be working with a ‘50 per cent reduced budget’.

It remains to be seen how many of the current squad Hughes can convince to stay under those circumstances. The traditional pre-season friendly with Forest Green Rovers has already been booked (date to be confirmed).

GARY ELSE, father of Cirencester Town player Jon, died on Wednesday morning after a long battle with cancer. Gary was a true friend to the sports desk at the Standard and we send our condolences to the Else family.