The Football Association have released further details on the restructure of the National League Pyramid at step 5 and 6 in the summer, impacting clubs across Berkshire.
Not necessarily unexpected, or even really breaking news after the Hellenic League weren’t appointed to run the new ‘Thames Valley Super League’ at step 5, but the FA changes in the summer will more than likely see the end of the competition in Berkshire.
It is important to note that at present, all club allocations are provisional.
The Combined Counties League, who have been given control of the new step 5 division alongside their existing Premier Division, will almost certainly swallow up the majority of Berkshire sides competing at step 5 and 6 next season.
There may also be an interesting segue in to the Wessex League for clubs in West Berkshire, including AFC Aldermaston.
The FA have conducted a mapping exercise using tables as they were at 31st December 2019 to allocate clubs, and according to the most recent update (you can read it here) will do so again in April.
Football in Berkshire has covered promotion and relegation at step 5 in depth here.
So what will the Combined Counties Leagues look like?
As it stands, the two Combined Counties League divisions look to be split North and South – with the North Division running West from Tadley through to Edgware and including Reading, Windsor, Wokingham and Egham.
The South division will bring Fleet Town across from the Wessex League and run as far south at East Grinstead, it may also include Sandhurst Town (subject to step 6 promotion) due to the Fizzers geographic location near Camberley Town and Frimley Green.
What about step 6?
The FA already confirmed the number of divisions at step 6 will reduce, with the proposals showing the Hellenic League will lose its East division.
Those teams that are in Division One East this season look likely to be split across the Combined Counties League and Wessex League with AFC Aldermaston looking set to switch to the competition they competed in between 2004 and 2010.
And the Hellenic League?
The Hellenic League became a part of Berkshire’s non league landscape when it merged with the Chiltonian League in 2000. The 1999/00 Chiltonian League Premier Division included the likes of Binfield, Finchampstead and Peppard.
The merger enabled the Division One East and West split but it wasn’t until Hungerford Town’s move from the Isthmian League Division Two in the summer of 2003 that a Berkshire side first made it to the competitions Premier Division – it wasn’t until he summer of 2009 when both Binfield and Ascot United were promoted from Division One East that there was proper East Berkshire representation – with Reading City being switched from the Combined Counties League.
On a side note, the end of the 2008/09 season was a strong one for Berkshire at step 6 with the top five in Division One East filled by 1. Binfield, 2. Ascot United, 3. Newbury, 4. Wokingham & Emmbrook, 5. Holyport.
As of the 2020/21 season, the Hellenic League’s footprint will be cut from Berkshire and Northamptonshire and focus on Oxfordshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Wiltshere.