Barnstaple side says player commitment is to blame.

North Devon League ‘invincibles’ Sporting Barum have announced the club’s withdrawal from the league.

The club – unbeaten in the league for two seasons – was set to join the Premier Division when the season kicks off next month.

Instead, it has been forced to fold due to a lack of commitment from players.

Assistant manager Bob ‘Gramps’ McGuire said it was ‘unfortunate that it had to come to an end’ but said those who had played for the club over the last two years had all been ‘excellent’.

“We said that we couldn’t run in the premier with a squad of less than 20; we needed players to commit to the full season and it just wasn’t there,” he said.

“If you look at our record you’d have thought that players would be falling over themselves to get into our side, but we were looking at only eight or 10 players at pre-season training.

McGuire said striker Matt Deakin had retired, along with club captain Jack Cornell. He said that the club had also lost two players to Boca Seniors, one to Pilton Academicals and one to Haxton, Rangers, while countless others had been unable to commit due to ‘having babies, buying houses or getting married’.

“It could well be that players had the most remarkable two seasons anyone could wish for but things were going to get a bit more serious,” he added.

“The gap between the senior and premier divisions is big, but I’m convinced that had we kept our squad we would have competed without a doubt.

“We’ve played six sides from higher leagues in the last two seasons and beat four and only lost two. To me, that proves we could have played at the level – whether we could have sustained it throughout the season is a different question.”

After manager Josh Pearce took over at the start of the 2015/16 season, Sporting went on a remarkable run, winning all 40 games in Pearce’s first season, picking up the Intermediate One trophy, as well as The Devon Intermediate Cup, Arlington Cup and Braunton Cup.

This season, the club won 33 of 40 matches, losing only twice – against Exeter University in the Devon Senior Cup and against Boca Seniors in the final of the Westward Ho! Cup. Sporting finished runner-up in the Senior Division and won the Braunton Cup. They were finalists in the Combe Martin Cup but were disqualified for playing an illegible player in the semi-final.