BRITAIN’S summer crop circles have been a disappointment this year – after their leading creators moved onto pastures new.

For the last 30 years the wheat fields of southern England have been filled with mysterious and intricate patterns.

They have drawn in thousands of tourists and some who saw the circles as the work of aliens.

But this year visitors have been disappointed by just a handful of crude patterns such as a square, a heart and a small uneven circle.

Insiders say a number of top crop circle makers have quit following a clampdown by farmers and moved on to making sand circles, which are legal.

Former crop circlemaker Matthew Williams – who has given up his hobby because he suffers from hayfever – said the lack of competition is driving down standards.

He said: “The problem is that the best croppies have retired or gone on to something new, so there isn’t any competition any more.

“They’re all creative types, and without any friendly rivalry, many just can’t be bothered.

“All the best crop circles from the last few years have been made by only a handful of people, and they’ve all hung up their wooden board now and moved on to pastures new."

Matt, 42, reckons the 15 circles that have appeared this year were created by amateurs. In comparison, more than 50 had been produced by this time last year.

He said: “Julian Richardson, one of the best croppies ever, has moved on to making sand circles instead. He wants to try something different and I think he’s fed up with believers trying to make money from his hobby – that he never made a penny from.

“I’ve retired due to hayfever, and a couple of my peers have just given up as well – it’s becoming too difficult.

“The farmers are getting angrier, the believers are getting too demanding and we’re still not making any money.”

Matt hit the headlines in 2006 when he became the first person to be convicted of criminal damage for creating a crop circle in a field of wheat.

He was caught after setting up a sting to debunk a Ufologist’s claim that he could communicate with aliens and would get them to make a specific shape in a field.

Farmers across Wiltshire and Hampshire are also fed up with crop circles and tourists looking to have a ‘out of body experiences’ inside them.

Some have taken the drastic step of mowing the formations out of their fields as soon as they appear.

Dutch crop circle ‘expert’ Monique Klinkenbergh tried to set up a pass scheme to charge people to look at the circles and walk inside them.

The £60 season ticket was intended to bring in revenue for farmers but it has flopped after it allowed access to only two formations.

Monique and colleagues Derek Viner and Charles Mallett set up a crop circle information centre at a garden centre in Woodborough, Wiltshire.

Matt said: “Loads of the boys are quitting making them now, because it’s being ruined by outsiders who are trying to make money from our hobby.”