The Bostik League beckons for Bracknell Town in the 2018/19 season after the Football Association released the step 1 to 4 allocations on Thursday.
The Bostik – also known as the Isthmian League – is a league the Robins last played in back in 2004 before they were moved sideways in to the Southern League..
As well as a step up in quality on the pitch, what other changes can Bracknell fans expect going largely in to the unknown. Steve Gabb takes a look at everything from the FA Trophy to new rivalries.
When will the Bracknell Town play their first fixture in the Isthmian League?
The first Isthmian League fixtures of the season will take place on Saturday 11th August at 3pm.
What cup competitions will Bracknell Town compete in?
Bracknell Town may have enjoyed their FA Vase run this season, but there will be no repeat of that in 2018/2019 as Step 4 clubs enter the FA Trophy. The FA Trophy is a cup competition for all clubs from Step 1 of the non-league pyramid (Conference National) down to Step 4 (the level Bracknell Town will be playing in next season).
That could – if all goes well – mean fixtures against former Football League stalwarts Torquay United, Leyton Orient, Hartlepool United and maybe even a Barnet rematch.
What stage will they enter the FA Cup?
In recent years Bracknell Town have entered the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round along with other Hellenic League clubs. Promotion to Step 4 means that the club enter the competition a round later (the Preliminary Round). This will mean an entry into the FA Cup in late August rather than early August.
How do teams get promoted from Step 4?
There are seven divisions at Step 4 but the step provides twelve promoted clubs. The club who finish in first place will seal promotion and there will likely be some sort of playoff system to fill the other five places. The exact format of these playoffs is yet to be confirmed.
New Boxing Day rivalries?
In recent years the Christmas and Bank Holiday fixtures have pitted Bracknell Town against local rivals Binfield. Step 4 leagues have a similar system of ensuring games are local on these special days so it’s likely the Robins will be facing one of Fleet Town, Egham or Marlow in their Boxing Day fixture.
Being in a different league structure to the Hellenic League means that Bracknell Town can now have their players dual signed with a Hellenic League club. A player could be registered with Bracknell but also turn out for Binfield or Ascot United (for example).
Perhaps of interest to kit-connoisseurs is that in Step 4 sleeve patches are sometimes worn. Slough Town wore Evo-Stick patches last season at Larges Lane when they faced one another in the Berks and Bucks Cup.