The new Salop Leisure Football League kicks off this weekend – providing county clubs with an exciting opportunity to feed into the National League pyramid.
Fourteen teams from across Shropshire have been attracted to take part in the premier division – launched by the Shropshire Football Association – with the opening fixtures to be played on Saturday.
The English FA approved the pilot scheme as the first adult male county league nationwide that offers a pathway into the National League pyramid at step six level.
Shropshire FA chairman Dave Simpson, who is also chairman of the new league, said: “We were the only county association to put forward an idea for running our own step seven league.
“We went to Chesterfield Football Club 15 months ago and put our proposals forward – and the new league is now ready to kick off.”
He added: “There’s been an exodus of Shropshire clubs that play Saturday football in recent years into the West Midlands League, North West Counties League and some also ventured off into Wales.
“There’s been a massive need for this form of football in Shropshire. We have never had it before as we have always had to feed into other leagues.”
Tony Bywater, the chairman of Salop Leisure, said the company is delighted to be associated with the new league.
He added: “A strong and well organised Saturday men’s football league of this nature is something I have been keen to see in Shropshire for a long time.
“I’m a firm believer in the importance of teams from around the county enjoying a healthy local rivalry.
“That can only be positive moving forward and it’s also beneficial for clubs to cut down on the costs often involved with having to travel further afield to play games.
“As a company, Salop Leisure is pleased to be involved in supporting many sports across Shropshire. We are now looking forward, with the support of the Shropshire FA, to an exciting season.”
The sponsorship from Salop Leisure, the Shrewsbury-based caravan and motorhome dealership, has enabled all clubs to receive a package of football accessories, including a tactics board, substitute board, first aid kit, manager’s coats and footballs.
Saturday’s opening fixtures
Ams FC v Wrockwardine Wood Juniors, Dawley Town v Madeley Sports, Gobowen Celtic v Shrewsbury Up & Comers, Ludlow v Albrighton, Newport Town v AFC Bridgnorth Development, Shifnal Town Development v Shrewsbury Juniors, Steam Wagon United v Church Stretton Town.