Lymington & New Milton chairman John Mills has dismissed talk of a merger with neighbours Bashley.

Were the Linnets to win promotion from the Wessex League this season, it would raise the possibility of two clubs, just a stone's throw away from each other, competing side by side in the Ryman Division 1 with combined gates of less than 300.

But though Mills is aware that there are people in the Bashley camp who believe merging would be the sensible way forward for New Forest football, he reckons Lymington would have little to gain by getting hitched with their neighbours.

He confirmed: "Amalgamation has been hinted at, but we've said categorically that we don't want to.

"We think any amalgamation would be more of a takeover by Bashley. We understand our facilities would be very attractive to them."

Although Mills admits that having two teams playing so close in the Ryman 1 would "not be an ideal situation", the Linnets are working hard to attract more people through the gate.

He said: "Crowds are the one thing that concern us. We're averaging under 100, which is really disappointing when you see some of the football we're playing.

"We hoped that if we'd got a good result in the Vase at Bury Town, we could have got a home draw in either the quarter or semi-final and the extra people who came along would have stayed.

"That's how Bashley did it years ago and at one stage they got up to about 400, but their support has dropped off in recent years.

There seems to be a malaise in this part of the world."

With vice-chairman Terry Morris, pictured below, now taking on the role of commercial director (see tomorrow night's Pink), the club are working hard to pave the way for possible promotion and Mills said: "We believe we can afford to go up.

"The way it works these days, it doesn't necessarily follow that we would be in the same league as Bashley, but when the time comes we'll sit down and work out the travelling distances and so on. We should have a much better idea in four to six weeks' time."

First off, Linnets face the tough task of trying to win the league.

Although they have lost only one league game since the start of September, they are just one of a handful of clubs in with a chance of the title.

"It's totally wide open," said Mills.

"At this stage, I wouldn't like to say who's going to win it."