TWO of Rutland’s football teams will merge at the end of this season in a bid to strengthen the future of football in Oakham.
Rutland Rangers and Oakham Imperial football clubs confirmed this week that plans to join forces have been approved by both clubs and that they will play as Oakham United FC from next season.
The merger between the clubs follows more than three years of talks and was announced after a meeting between the two clubs on Tuesday.
Many of the fine details such as a new club badge are still to be decided but current chairman of Oakham Imps and chairman of the new side, Barry Clarke said the county colours of green and gold could become the new club colours.
The chairmen of both clubs say a merger will help to secure the future of football in Oakham.
Rutland Rangers’ current chairman, Alistair Forbes will become vice-chairman of the new club.
He said: “We want to create a stronger club within the town.
“This is a very exciting time for football in Oakham and by combining the strengths of Oakham Imperial FC and Rutland Rangers FC, the future development of football in Oakham is secured.”
Currently the two sides play in different leagues. Imps play in the Leicester and District League while Rangers play in the Peterborough and District League, winning the league and cup double last season.
The aim is for the new Oakham United side to play in the Peterborough League where Rangers have had so much recent success.
Ultimately Oakham United will seek permanent new ground facilities but will continue to play at the Catmose Campus, where Imps currently play until a new site is identified.
Mr Forbes said: “We need Rutland County Council to share in the ambitions we have and assist us in every way to secure a facility suitable for us to develop.
“Our ambition is to have four senior sides and an under 18 team.”
Imps chairman Barry Clarke, whose involvement in Rutland football goes back many decades, said: “It’s in the best interests of the town. There’s a lot of guys doing a good work at both clubs. We are very excited. We think this is the best way forward.
“It happened before with the Imps and Oakham Town years ago. We are going back in history in a sense.”
Anyone interested in supporting Oakham United through voluntary work or sponsorship should contact Barry Clarke on 01572 723140 or Alistair Forbes on 07961 928660.
l On Saturday Rutland Rangers beat Stamford Bels 2-1 and Oakham Imps beat Rafters FC 3-1. Match reports on page 118 and 119.