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Finchampstead FC to leave Hellenic League and Jon Laugharne on the move

Finchampstead FC look set to lose their Hellenic League status due to the uncertainty surrounding their future as a step 6 club with the Football Association looking to impose stricter ground gradings.

Finch have spent 17 years as a Division 1 East club and prior to that were a Chiltonian Premier Division side but look set to lose that status despite the efforts of the Hellenic League to keep them.

The Memorial Ground that serves as Finch’s home is primarily a cricket pitch and the club have no prospect of being able to install the hard standing, seats and floodlights that would be required to get a suitable grading.

We understand that Finchampstead could have stayed as a Hellenic club but this would depend year on year which clubs were eligible for promotion from the Thames Valley Premier League and other leagues at step 7 which would create annual uncertainty and speculation at the club.

Finchampstead FC's Harry Swabey. Photo: Mark Pugh.

Finchampstead FC’s Harry Swabey. Photo: Mark Pugh.

A post on the website Finchampstead Football Club Extra states: “The Reserves who appear to have finished 2nd in Division 2 of the Thames Valley Football League will now represent Finchampstead FC on Saturdays as the First team.”

Reaction: ‘Not sure this level of football has the right priorities at times’

Ground Grading Background

The FA originally announced revised rules that all step 6 clubs had to obtain a G ground grade by 31st March 2016 to enable them to remain at step 6.

After the decision, it became apparent that this was too much of a challenge with only 47% of step 6 clubs nationally fully meeting the G grade.

The FA then revised the ruling again saying that clubs who did not comply with the G grade by 31st March 2016 could remain at step 6 whilst there were vacancies but should any division become full of clubs who held a G grade, then those clubs without a G grade would be subject to relegation.

The situation was to be monitored and reviewed in March 2018 but every year since the ruling, those club without a G grade have been at risk.

Jon Laugharne

As a result of the news manager Jon Laugharne – who led Finch to fourth this season, the highest finish since 2005 – has been appointed as manager of relegated Premier Division side Henley Town.

Laugharne said to FootballinBracknell: “The Hellenic League did all they could to keep the club but the uncertainty meant we would be unable plan for the long term.

“I’ve been at Finch for a long time but the opportunity to stay and manage in Division 1 East at Henley came up and it was an offer I couldn’t turn down.”

This uncertainty around status will almost certainly affect other Hellenic League Division 1 sides with Chalfont Wasps and Wokingham & Emmbrook in similar situations – though the Sumas have planning permission for improvements at Lowther Road with work expected to get underway soon.

Hellenic League

The Hellenic League have not commented on this matter as it is the FA’s NLS (National League System) who approve all promotion and relegation matters in non-league along with any reprieves and clubs being moved laterally and we understand that all of these issues will be resolved in the next fortnight.

Finchampstead FC would like to stress that the Hellenic League have been supportive and sympathetic throughout the process and have fought hard for one of their member clubs.

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Tom Canning

Tom is the co-editor of FootballinBracknell. He has played at the lowest possible level of football. In real life Tom works for Trinity Mirror.

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Comments

  1. […] has been an awful lot of response to our piece on the news that Finchampstead are to leave the Hellenic League due to the uncertainty around ground grading for step 6 […]

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  2. […] the news that Finchampstead look set to leave the Hellenic League over ongoing uncertainty about their membership due to ground grading, we thought we’d ask […]

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  3. […] will notice that Finchampstead are no longer in the Hellenic League following the previous news that they would drop into the Thames Valley […]

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  4. […] former Finchampstead management duo attended Henley’s club AGM on Monday evening but events on the night made their positions […]

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  5. […] move signals the first confirmed move of a member of the Finch squad that broke up following the clubs enforced demotion to the Thames Valley League after 17 seasons at step […]

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