Promotion no sparks fresh reshuffle

7 months ago By David Watters

The Football Association has reshuffled the original allocation of Non-League clubs at Steps 1 to 4 for next season after Andover Town declined promotion to the Southern League.

As a result of the decision by the Wessex League runners-up and the vacancy created at Step 4 in the Southern League's West Division, officials at Wembley confirmed the knock-on effects and reallocation of a number of clubs at noon on Tuesday.

AFC Mansfield are arguably the biggest winners after earning a late promotion to Step 4 in the Northern Premier League's new East Division as the Step 5 club with the best points per game average following their third-placed finish in the Northern Counties East Football League.

Chasetown, due to move into the Southern League's Central Division when the original allocation was released by the FA last Thursday, are now staying put and will kick off in the new EVO-STIK League West Division.

Brighouse Town's fans, players and officials will also be running the rule over a whole new list of competitors for season 2018-19 after being switched out of EVO-STIK League West and into EVO-STIK League East.

Yaxley and Peterborough Sports would have been among Brighouse Town's opponents but instead will now start in the Southern League's Central Division after being asked to switch competitions.

Southern League Cinderford Town are the final club making new plans after they were reallocated a berth in the Southern League's West Division instead of the Central Division.

In accordance with FA Regulations, club appeals to Wembley over the allocation must be made within seven days of today’s announcement with any subsequent hearings set to take place at the end of May and start of June.

The FA undertook a major reallocation of clubs this summer following the creation of the new Midlands divisions for season 2018-19.

Carried out by the FA Leagues Committee to iron out geographical anomalies, cut down on travelling costs and time for fans, players and officials and encourage more Step 5 clubs to climb the pyramid, the biggest shake-up to the structure of Non-League in more than a decade since 2004 has seen the creation of new Step 3 and 4 divisions covering the Midlands region.

In total, the 276 clubs currently playing in Steps 1 to 4 are increasing by 20 to 296 when the two new divisions kick-off in August.

Across the board, the reshuffle had seen the three current Step 3 divisions of 24 clubs increase to four divisions of 22 clubs while the six divisions at Step 4 currently run by the Northern Premier League, Southern League and Isthmian League have risen from 136 clubs playing in six divisions to seven 20 club divisions.

To achieve the FA's aims, only the bottom clubs in the current Step 3 divisions were relegated at the end of 2017-18 season. In addition, only the clubs finishing last in the six divisions currently operating at Step 4 were relegated with 26 clubs set to come up from Step 5.

As a result of the shake-up, the NPL's clubs at Step 4 voted in March to switch from a north/south geographical split to an east/west allocation for 2018-19 and beyond.

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