A shortage of match referees has forced one local football league to reduce its membership for the new season.

The long established Beacon Sunday league admitted they had little option but to kick off their 46th campaign with less teams, writes Dave McLean.

Founder member and general secretary David Clinton confirmed this week that the league's 2022/23 line-up will comprise one main open age section of 15 teams, along with a ten-strong over 30s division.

"We were left with no choice," said Clinton, whose league attracted over 40 teams this time last year.

"We've had to ensure we have match officials for all our fixtures, therefore, due to a lack of referees we've had to revamp and go for a slim down version of our league," added Clinton.

Many leagues at grassroots level  experienced similar problems last season and, to avoid the same, Beacon league officials have chosen this direction for the forthcoming campaign.

As a result this popular local Sunday afternoon league has taken a somewhat reluctant step to cut back its number of member clubs, at least for the forthcoming season, to ensure it survives for future years.

Clinton said the league had managed to retain a good percentage of teams from last term, and added:"We hope we will now have sufficient referees to make it a much more enjoyable experience for all teams."

The new season kicks off on September 4 with a Paycare sponsored open age division comprising 15 teams, all of whom will play each other once to decide the outright winners and runners up.

Once league fixtures are completed the leading clubs in this section will take part in a qualifying group for the Chell Cup, with the remaining Paycare teams contesting similar group qualifiers for the Clinton Cup.

At over-30 level, teams will similarly play each other once for league honours, before having the option to contest a second qualifying group of games for the Roger Brindley Memorial Cup.

The Paycare league line-up is: AFC Sporting Gornal, AFC Bloxwich, AFC Goldthorne, Brandhall AFC, Bushbury Hill, Gunmakers Arms, Hagley United, Kewford Eagles, Lane Head FC, Sedgley Rangers, Sedgley/Gornal East, Sedgley/Gornal West, Trysull Athletic, Trysull FC, Wombourne Athletic.

Clubs signed up for the Over 30s section are, AFC Broadlands, AFC Willenhall, Bilston Old Boys, Casuals FC, Claregate 030s, HC Rangers, KT Rangers, MNF Allstarz, Shere Punjab, Sportsman 030s.