Rumours are rife of changes within the Hellenic League Division 1 East and West’s structure and while we won’t speculate on what those will be, there are plenty of teams at step 6 confirming their status for the 2018/19 season.
The FA appear set to finally carry out the ground grading threat after several seasons of putting it off. The same reason we lost Finchampstead at this level last summer. The real concern is around clubs without floodlights, and it’s those clubs who are under threat of demotion. It’s important at this point to note these are FA implemented guidelines rather than Hellenic League.
A number of clubs already groundshare to maintain their step 5 or 6 status – whether that is sustainable of course is down to the deals the individual clubs have with their landlords. The obvious examples early on are Woodley United at Highmoor Ibis and Virginia Water at Windsor.
It is to the Hellenic League’s credit we understand that Division 2 will become a step 7 league similar to the Thames Valley Premier League. The current Division 2 setup operates outside the English Football Pyramid.
There appear also to be moves to amalgamate Division 1 West and East – again this is rumour as there has been no word from the League on this. However it would tie in with the FA insisting on ground grading at step 6 as an amalgamated Division 1 would include increased midweek fixtures.
Here’s what we know about clubs affected by the expected changes:
Penn & Tyler’s Green
Arguably the highest profile case currently, the two time Division 1 East and current champions are in the midst of an acrimonious planning battle with Chiltern Council who have blocked the clubs plan to upgrade the ground.
The club have featured on ITV’s local news as the fight goes on but in the short term Penn will stay in Division 1 East after striking up a groundshare deal with neighbours Amersham.
— Sam Holder (@samholdertv) April 15, 2018
Meanwhile the council put out this tweet which really didn’t seem particularly smart.
Fill your boots everyone…. feedback is a gift 🔵⚪️🔵⚪️ https://t.co/kJPUcwp05v
— Penn Tylers Green FC (@Penn_football) April 10, 2018
Wokingham & Emmbrook
Wokingham & Emmbrook chairman Stephen Williams has confirmed to Football in Bracknell that the club will make a statement at the end of the season on their future.
Previously known as Old Woodstock Town, the club have been unable to get permission for lights at their New Road ground.
To clarify the earlier club statement, Woodstock Town 1st team will be playing in Division 2 of the @HellenicLeague next season due to FA ground grading and not being able to the secure planning permission needed for the requisite floodlighting to be installed at New Road 1/2
— Woodstock Town FC (@WoodstockTn) April 14, 2018
Amateurs have spent at least 30 seasons in the Hellenic League according to FCHD.info but have suggested they’ll be in Division 2.
Looks like we’re be in division 2 as well next season. Well done @FA totally ripping the heart out of local football 👏🏻👏🏻
— Headington Amateurs (@HAmateurs) April 15, 2018
Their manager stepped down due to the likelihood the club would drop out of step 6, that threat looks like it’s passed by.
Chinnor FC gets verbal confirmation that it keeps its STEP 6 status and will be playing in the Hellenic League next year.
— Chinnor FC (@chinnorfc) April 6, 2018
We’ve seen the Division 1 West Rocks mentioned online but can’t find anything to support it at the moment.
The Hellenic League website contains a statement from the club: “Letcombe Football Club cannot remain in Division One West of the Hellenic League next season as they do not meet the level 6 ground grading requirement for lights.”
Have we missed a club off this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Main image: Wokingham & Emmbrook by Richard Milam.