On Friday last week the Football Association released the eagerly awaited 2018/19 constitutions for the step 5 and 6 leagues across the country.
Unlike the Football League where promotion and relegation are the norm, there is in the non league pyramid the opportunity for both sideways moves, reprieves and double demotions.
The things we knew about included Thatcham Town and Bracknell Town being promoted to step 4 while we all expected the Hellenic League’s two step 6 divisions to merge in to one big 20 (ish) team division. With that in mind, here’s a few of the unanswered questions that we expect will get cleared up at the Hellenic AGM.
What happened to the single Hellenic League Division 1?
It had been widely believed – and hands up – we thought it made sense to given the noises about ground grading based demotions, that the Hellenic League’s two Division 1’s would be merged and the league would create a step 7 league of their own to accommodate clubs.
The reason we believed this was due in part to the number of clubs without lights facing demotion – including Wokingham & Emmbrook. The way things stand with two divisions it’s perfectly reasonable to play matches on Saturday afternoon’s when lights aren’t necessary, but a combined 20+ team division would require midweek fixtures.
For reasons we’re not yet certain of, that didn’t happen and the likes of the Sumas and Penn & Tylers Green – who lets not forget have already arranged a ground share with lights – should for now anyway, get by without them.
What of Wokingham?
The interesting thing about the Sumas inclusion at step 6 was the note saying: ‘Club allocated on condition that they play at a G Grade compliant ground until works complete.’
You’ll remember Wokingham have planning permission for lights at Lowther Road but work has not yet started to install them meaning if they wish to stay at step 6 they will need to ground share.
According to this weeks Bracknell News, Wokingham are ‘in discussions’ with Palmer Park an option – albeit a far from ideal one. We have reached out to the club for clarification.
Is Henley Town’s revival real?
We were delighted to see Henley back on the non league footballing map when the Non League Paper revealed the allocations for 2018/19.
Chatter online since then – and a lack of updates on the clubs website and social media since then – points to their inclusion being an error following the Red Kites withdrawal during the 2017/18 season.
What that would mean for clubs moving sideways out of the division, as yet we don’t know.
A two division demotion for not taking promotion
This one struck us as a bit harsh. Andover Town had earned promotion to step 4 at the end of this season but according to their website were unable to accept promotion due to the loss of key figures and significant sponsorship at the club.
This resulted in a two division demotion to step 6 which frankly seems a bit of a heavy handed punishment for ensuring the club stays alive.
Are there any unanswered questions we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.