Ridgefield Youth Football has been removed from the American Youth Football Association after some RYF members tried to start a new league.
Lawrence Finnegan, a board member of the Candlewood Valley League, which just removed Ridgefield from its ranks, sent a letter to RYF dated Jan. 30. The Candlewood Valley League includes teams from Fairfield County and New York State.
"It has come to the attention of the CVL Executive Board that in recent weeks people associated with RYF, either directly or through agents acting on your behalf, are contacting teams, organizations and national leagues both in and out of CVL seeking to leave CVL and form a new league outside of CVL involvement ... Effective immediately RYF, as is constituted now, its teams, football and cheerleading, coaches and board members are no longer affiliated with AYF or CVL," the letter read.
Finnegan declined to comment beyond his letter.
An AYF media contact did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening, and e-mails sent to multiple RYF members have yet to be returned by someone willing to comment.
Prior to the dismissal, Ridgefield representatives had contacted AYF National Football Commissioner Bill Brown to ask about forming a new league, according to e-mail correspondence between Brown and John Lehaney, who coached one of the fourth grade teams in the fall. The e-mails were forwarded to Ridgefield Patch.
Brown's e-mail indicated that Ridgefielders approached Newtown, also in the Candlewood Valley League, as well as Wilton, New Canaan and Fairfield, which are all in the Fairfield County Football League and not part of AYF.
"It is the experience of AYF that most associations seeking to form a new conference away from the one they currently belong to is generally the result of being disciplined or some adult conflicts or issues," Brown wrote.
"AYF will not be granting RYF the right to form a new AYF affiliated conference. Please do not reference AYF in any discussion you may have with any other football organization as we grant you no authority to speak on our behalf," he wrote.
The removal could affect as many as 300 Ridgefield kids who participate on nine football teams and four cheerleading squads, if they can no longer compete against their former league-mates.
In December, the Ridgefield Raiders eighth grade team came in third place in the American Youth Football national championships in Florida under the guidance of coach Mike Scalzo, and one of the town's fifth grade teams won the CVL championship.
The Division 13 cheerleaders attended the regional championships, and the Division 11 cheerleaders won first place in the national competition in Florida in December.