‘Staying in the Southern League could have been damaging financially. I would have been taking a massive risk’ – Moneyfields chairman Pete Seiden on the club’s return to the Wessex League

Moneyfields have been granted their wish to drop back down into the Wessex League - four years after leaving it.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 3:15 pm
Moneyfields in Wessex League Premier Division action in 2016/17 against Fareham Town. The two clubs will meet again in the same division next season after Moneys took voluntary relegation from the Southern League. Picture: Keith Woodland.
Moneyfields in Wessex League Premier Division action in 2016/17 against Fareham Town. The two clubs will meet again in the same division next season after Moneys took voluntary relegation from the Southern League. Picture: Keith Woodland.

The Portsmouth-based club asked the FA almost two months ago to return them to the Wessex Premier Division due to the huge economic hit they have taken during the pandemic.

Chairman Pete Seiden believed he would be taking a ‘massive risk’ with Moneys’ future by committing to a 2021/22 Southern League Division 1 South campaign.

That was after losing more than half of the £70,000-plus sponsorship figure needed to bankroll the club at step 4 level due to Covid-19’s crippling effect on businesses.

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Seiden had been left to sweat on either the FA keeping them in the Southern League, or even moving them down two divisions into Wessex Division 1.

That latter option could have resulted in incoming boss Glenn Turnbull and the management and players he is bringing over from US Portsmouth staying put.

In recent years, Petersfield Town, Andover Town and Blackfield & Langley have all been handed a double demotion after asking for voluntary relegation.

But this afternoon Seiden found out that Moneyfields have been placed in next season’s Wessex Premier Division.

That ensures a host of mouthwatering Portsmouth area derbies against Baffins Milton Rovers, US Portsmouth, AFC Portchester, Fareham Town and Horndean.

That sort of fixture list should give all those clubs the chance to welcome some of the biggest league crowds they have seen for many years.

Seiden contacted the FA in March as the application for next season’s Southern League had to be in by the end of that month.

‘Staying in the Southern League could have been damaging financially. I would have been taking a massive risk,’ he told The News.

‘Equally, going down to Wessex 1 could have been damaging player-wise. I wouldn’t expect Glenn and his players to come if that was the case.

‘We’ve done everything as if we were going into the Wessex Prem - we’ve applied for the Vase rather than the Trophy and we spoke to Glenn on the basis we’d be in the Wessex Prem.

‘We basically took a calculated risk.

‘We haven’t done anything wrong so theoretically we shouldn’t have been punished (by being placed in Wessex 1).’

At the start of 2019/20, the FA said that the top four clubs in Wessex 1 would be promoted.

Now they have restructured, only the top three from that division - based on points-per-game over the last two seasons - have been invited up (US Portsmouth, Hythe & Dibden and Alton).

It appears Moneyfields have taken the fourth place that was originally available.

As a result, Seiden is looking forward to increased crowds with a host of derbies.

‘The Wessex Prem will be the best it’s been for a long time,’ he remarked.

‘All the local sides will think they can get in the top six - Portchester, Baffins, Horndean are always strong, Fareham have kicked on.

‘There’s a lot of derbies where you could be looking at crowds of 400/500.

‘I remember when Moneyfields were in the Wessex with clubs like Poole Town and Wimborne, it’s getting back to that sort of level now.

‘We are looking for our gates to improve next season, and I think they will with Glenn coming over.

‘I’ve managed to secure enough money to make us competitive in the Wessex Premier next season.

‘But one day we’d like to have a right crack at the Southern League again.

‘If it wasn’t for the pandemic, we’d still be a Southern League club.’