The Football Association’s restructure of the English non league football pyramid could well throw three Berkshire rivals back together after two seasons apart.
Step 5 sides Ascot United and Binfield are flying high in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League and Uhlsport Hellenic League respectively and are in prime position to make the step up to step 4 at the end of the 2019/20 season.
Bracknell Town meanwhile sit seventh at step 4 in the BetVictor Isthmian League South Central Division One – just three points of fifth place and a spot in the end of season play offs.
As things stand, the usually reliable ‘Non League Projections’ spread sheet for how the divisions will look next season has thrown the three clubs together in an ‘Southern League East’ division that would include trips to the likes of Chichester City, Basingstoke Town and Moneyfields.
Ascot United are currently top of the Combined Counties League Premier by four points from Spelthorne Sports with 13 games remaining, Binfield are second in the Hellenic Premier – six points and a game in hand ahead of third placed Fairford Town – and 13 points and four games behind top of the table Westfield who the Moles are due to meet on 10th April in Herefordshire.
Neither Ascot nor Binfield necessarily need to win their divisions to go up though. With an eighth division created at step 4 for the 2020/21 season their are additional places available for clubs other than the league winners to take promotion.
The FA have confirmed that at step 5 at the end of the season, the four best second placed teams outside of the North West Counties League, Northern League and Northern Counties East League based on points per game will be promoted, and the remaining seven clubs will face a play off against the seven bottom sides at step 4.
Of course, both sides could get promoted, but on current form (nine league games unbeaten, seven wins, two draws and only three goals conceded) since the 14th December, you wouldn’t bet against Bracknell making the step 4 play offs and taking that momentum on to promotion to step 3 – something they narrowly missed out on last season via a play off final defeat to Cheshunt.