Leatherhead skipper Matt Joblin has called on the Surrey Championship to address a growing “them and us” culture between the top half of the Premier Division and the rest of the league.
Having guided the Fetcham Grove side to the top flight for the first time in the club’s history, Joblin was excited at the prospect of taking on the top teams.
And he admitted that a losing draw at home to Guildford on Saturday was down to mistakes and an under par performance.
However, the financial gulf between the top and bottom halves of the table is leaving a sour taste in the mouth.
He said: “The Surrey Championship need to address the gulf between the top few clubs of the Premier Division and the rest of us.
“We’re playing sides who have a player budget of £20,000 to £40,000 a year, whereas clubs outside the Premier Division have players who pay £10 or so to play.
“The financial pressure on sides promoted to the Premier Division is huge, and I have spoken to a captain of a side in the First Division who does not want to win promotion – that cannot be right and it cannot be good for cricket.”
He added: “The sides at the top have been the same for the past four or five years, and they have created not only a Premier Division standard on the pitch, but also off it with their facilities and financial backing.
“That means they can attract the best young players, we cannot get them to play for Leatherhead because they know that if they go down the road, they will get paid.
“It has created a them and us culture.”
Since winning promotion last season, Leatherhead have been given a season’s leniency before they must build a new changing room that meets Surrey Championship criteria, if they do not, they will be not allowed to stay in the top flight.
Joblin said: “We have to spend £10,000 on a new dressing room because it is one metre short of the specifications. That is a huge financial pressure on us.
“And if these restrictions are putting teams off from wanting to reach the Premier Division, then that defeats the object.”
On the pitch, and despite his misgivings, Joblin says the team is desperate to stay in the Premier Division.
“I am frustrated at the situation but entirely focused on keeping Leatherhead where it is,” he said.
“Against Guildford we did the simple things badly, we must have dropped at least six chances.
“And we always pride ourselves on being mobile and aggressive in the field, and that was missing.
“We’re looking to put it right when we go to Weybridge this weekend.”
Joblin is boosted by the return from injury of Jonathan Tribe, who has been missing since the second game of the season.