Harrogate Railway manager Des Macorison says he fears for the future of adult grassroots football, particularly the West Yorkshire League and Yorkshire Amateur League.
Premier Division side Leeds City resigned from the West Yorkshire League this week, following in the footsteps of five-time champions Bardsey who packed up in 2015.
Knaresborough Celtic, who used to be managed by former Railway boss Brian Davey, are no longer a WYL club.
Macorison was the manager of Littletown in the now-defunct West Riding County Amateur League last season and he has painted a bleak picture of lower Non League Football and even the higher reaches of step 7 football poisoned by money.
“The West Yorkshire League and Yorkshire Amateur League, I fear for their futures,” Macorison told Non League Yorkshire.
“I was manager of Littletown last season in the West Riding County Amateur League. That league doesn’t exist anymore, it shut down at the end of last season after existing for 100 years.
“Grassroots football, it has gone, hasn’t it? You see as well on Sundays around where I live, it has all nearly folded and it is scary.
“I can see a real shortage of players for clubs coming very soon, more so at step 7.
“It will go either two ways. One where players see the opportunities to develop at step 7 or step 6 and then to step up to a higher level or they’d rather work because they get paid more.
“A lot of players would rather work on a Saturday because they can earn more money. I know of a couple of players who have chosen to work rather than play because they can earn more money.
“I have known players who have come and had the expectations that when you reach this level (step 6) that you’re on £150 or £200 a game. Obviously it is nowhere near that.”
Macorison’s Railway squad is not motivated by monetary gain. Since his appointment back in May, he has chosen to focus on team spirit.
“Players come here for what we have, rather than the money,” he said.
“We build our squad around team spirit and someone coming in demanding money is probably not the right fit for us. It shows the character.
“The money you’re going to get at this level is not going to be a life-changing amount of money.
“Money doesn’t buy success either. Whickham came here in the Northern League and we were told that their budget was x amount. Without saying it, it was a lot of money.
“Their squad had the York City goalkeeper (Adam Bartlett) in, plus others players from higher up.
“They are eleventh in their league.”
In his quest to catch a falling star in Railway, Macorison has done a good job so far. Railway have been on a slump ever since Billy Miller left for Tadcaster Albion in 2015 and have suffered three relegations in four years – with one reprieve.
Two wins, one draw and two defeats have opened their Toolstation NCEL Division One campaign, despite many injuries to key players and Macorison is satisfied to an extent.
“I thought two weeks ago we were getting past the stage where we had all these injuries,” he said.
“James Heeley has done his achilles and we’re not sure how bad it is. Luke McCrum went off injured against Armthorpe.
“Jags (Joe Jagger) is 70% fit. Toby Harris is still injured. Ryan Caulfield came on against Winterton and he felt his hamstring again so he’s another two weeks away.
“It is rolling on, but we’re kind of rolling with the punches. In the league, apart from the Selby game we have done relatively well.
“We have built a good nucleus of a squad, when everybody is fit. In terms the opposition we have played, I generally think we are better than everyone who we have played.
“Even against Selby, but that game showed our weaknesses.
“I hope the club are happy. I take the view that there is no point saying I want x amount of points. I want the maximum. If you strive for the maximum and get somewhere close it is happy days.
“It has been a positive start and in every game we have learnt something. The players have done some tremendously positive things, we just need to marry them together.
“We showed the heart against Rossington, game management at Armthorpe and we played a great standard of football against West Allotment and Campion.
“We just need to gel it all together because we’re showing glimpses of what we can do.”