Given it looks as though Berkshire interest this season in the Combined Counties League Premier Division North is focussed on the fight to stay in the division, Football in Berkshire thought it worth looking at the permutations.
Berkshire sides Wokingham & Emmbrook and Holyport, as well as Tadley Calleva and Virginia Water from our wider community, are all involved in the battle to beat the drop in the division, but what happens at the end of the season isn’t entirely straightforward.
There were a specific set of rules set out by the FA at the start of the season that told clubs what would happen at the end of the 2021/22 campaign now that additional divisions had been added at step 5 and the competition streamlined at step 6.
The Non-League Paper is the go-to source on this, on the 9th June 2021 the outlet reported that at step 5 of the English Football Pyramid: “One club promoted automatically per division and the runners-up will face an away tie at a third or fourth bottom-placed Step 4 club in a promotion/relegation play-off. Two clubs per division will be relegated into Step 6.”
Straightforward so far, except the Premier Division North that our clubs compete in along with Reading City, Ascot United and Windsor, is two clubs short of the required amount of teams with 18 competing this season.
Will there be relegation from the Combined Counties League Premier Division North?
The simple answer on whether a team from the Combined Counties League Premier Division North will be relegated this season is that there isn’t one.
The ever-reliable source of Non-League information, Ollie Bayliss, tweeted a table graphic that said at the end of the 2021/22 season, 20 teams would be relegated, and in 2022/23 that would rise to 32. Given there are 16 Step 5 divisions that works out at two per division.
Even with our rudimentary mathematics though, 20 relegations this season would still suggest at least one team will face relegation from the CCL Premier North.
‘There are only 18 teams in the division though?!’ we hear you cry. That worked for Reading City in the Hellenic League back in 2018/19 when there were only 19 teams in the Hellenic Premier and each competition worked out its own promotion and relegation.
Now though, it’s all done based on regionalisation, all the bottom clubs are put into a pot and any reprieves are dished out based on Points Per Game (PPG) rather than the size of the divisions. So the bottom club at the end of the season in the Combined Counties League Premier Division North will go down, but as it stands only four of the second bottom clubs at Step 5 across the country will go down, based on a PPG calculation.
Football in Berkshire has been told to expect some clarity on promotion and relegation from the FA in the second week of February.