Gillingham Town FC have announced they are to quit the Western League at the end of the season as the club focuses on developing its new ground and building up its financial resources.
The surprise announcement comes despite a successful season on the pitch, with the Gills currently tenth in the Toolstation Western league Premier Division and with a cup final in the Dorset Senior Cup on 11 April to look forward to. The Gills also beat Roman Glass St George 3-1 away from home in the Les Phillips Cup on Saturday.
In a statement, the club said they were making the switch back down to the Dorset Premier League at the end of the season with ‘great regret’, describing it as a ‘ very important, strategic decision’.
It continued: ‘The reasons for taking this radical decision are to concentrate all our resources on ensuring our new ground is completed as quickly as possible and, even more importantly, to build our financial hub/community centre, which we do not currently have.
‘Once built it will help fund and secure football in Gillingham for generations and then we will be looking for Western League/Southern League football again.’
The statement added: ‘We hope that the local community will continue to support us as you have in the past seasons; indeed, we hope this decision will help inspire others to get involved with the Club and assist with its future development. Currently there are too few of us doing too much and, like any club, we need more support behind the scenes.
‘We have built up a reputation for looking after our players over the years and we hope that some players will stay with us during this temporary transition.’
The Dorset Senior Cup Final against Weymouth on Tuesday 11 April is at Dorchester Town’s Avenue Stadium, kick-off 7.45 pm.
The Club’s presentation evening will be held on Friday 5 May at the Olive Bowl in Gillingham.