THE FUTURE of the proposed merger between the Western League and the South West Peninsula League has been thrown into doubt following a statement put out by the Peninsula League on Monday.

The two competitions were supposed to become one upon the conclusion of the 2022-23 season with the merger creating the Western Peninsula League, a group of regionalised leagues covering the South West from Bristol to Lands’ End.

A reduction of travel time and costs was the primary reason for the competitions to come together, making football more sustainable for local clubs. The league was due to have a five-division set-up; two Step Five divisions, the Premier North and the Premier South, and three Step Six divisions, Division One East, Central and West. It was intended to have 18 clubs in each league.

The merger would mean that four clubs would be promoted from the South West Peninsula League Premier East, which is the haunt of clubs like Bovey Tracey AFC, Newton Abbot Spurs and Teignmouth AFC, each of whom are very much in the mix at the top of the division.

In the statement, which was posted to the South West Peninsula League’s Twitter account, Hiscox wrote that the offer from Western League representatives to have him doing the administrative work at Step 6 would not be ‘something I could ever agree to as it is both insulting to my experience, would create a two-tier system that is unfair on the clubs, and a flagrant breach of the promise John [Pool, Western League chairman] made at the very start of this journey.

‘At the start of this journey, John Pool and I shook hands in front of witnesses at Wembley and agree a merger of equals and further, that our own ambitions would be put aside, if necessary, for the good of football and the member clubs.

‘Regrettably under that test, I feel I must now withdraw from this project as my presence is clearly a hindrance.’

Soon after the statement was released, it was announced that Peninsula League Chairman Mike Pett and proposed Welfare Officer Tracy Banfield have resigned form the Steering Committee. Keith Mann has confirmed a withdrawal of acceptance of a place on the proposed board.

It is expected that the situation will evolve throughout the day.