Shaw Lane AFC have withdrawn from the Evo Stik and effectively folded as Craig Wood has decided to retire from football.
The Junior section are unaffected by the stunning development, triggered by Mr Wood’s frustration at being unable to change the club’s name to incorporate Barnsley.
It is massive blow to local football as Shaw Lane’s ascent up the Divisions was the catalyst for a golden era of Non League Football in Barnsley.
The club reached the Emirates FA Cup first round last season and were able to publicise Barnsley in a positive way as the match was televised.
Mr Wood said: “The last 6 or 7 years has been a great journey and all efforts have been made along the way to establish ourselves as a sustainable football club. The fact that we were a new club that wanted to play at the highest level possible brought with it a number of challenges; primarily it was imperative that our fan base grew with the club, which should always be the case when a club is progressing through the football pyramid. Unfortunately, our fan base has remained consistent to that of 5 years ago when the club gained promotion to the NCEL.
“This level of support is not sustainable for a club playing step 3 Football. I have been asked; “why don’t we drop down to a level that is sustainable?”, but to be honest, I have no appetite for putting my all into a football club playing at anything other than the highest level possible.
“Secondly, for the club to consolidate the rapid progress that we made it was imperative that we incorporated the name of the town in which we play within our title. It was always the objective to play at a level slightly higher than the Northern Premier League. Unfortunately, as a new club, it was always going to be difficult to establish an identity and we were very proud to represent the town of Barnsley. Our application to do this was met with hostile and aggressive resistance at times from Barnsley FC, but more disappointing it was also objected to by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and our own County FA.
“With all this in mind, I have had to question why I should continue putting all my efforts into it when clearly there is no appetite for this club in the town of Barnsley. I feel sorry for our small but loyal band of supporters and volunteers and I apologise wholeheartedly for having to make this decision, if they are hurting, I can assure you I am hurting just as much, after all, I was a fan more than a Chairman.
“I know it takes time to build a football club, but we wanted to do things a little differently from most clubs. Most can trace their origin back to a miner’s welfare or suchlike where a ground was given to them. I bet some football fans of non-league cannot tell you the origins of their ground or who actually owns it. People would say to me: “why didn’t Shaw Lane buy their own ground?” Well to answer this simply, contrary to what many people think, I am not sat on an oil well with a spare 10 million sat in an offshore account; I run a modest business in which I work damn hard to make a profit year on year.
“To date, Shaw Lane has cost me personally well over one million pounds to achieve what we have. Naively I thought that if we could get this club to a seriously competitive level then people would want to support us locally, not in any way as an alternative to Barnsley FC, but as another club for local people to follow in our catchment area. The concept of Shaw Lane was always a gamble, which unfortunately has come as far as it can. We set out a 5-year plan back in 2012, which was to be knocking on the door of the National League and to play a Football League side in the FA Cup, with great pride, we have achieved this and it would have been a fairy tale to be able to take the club even further.
“The reality of the situation, however, is that I cannot do this on my own and inward investment from like-minded people together with supporters coming through the turnstiles was always the key to ensuring the clubs sustainability.”