The Uhlsport Hellenic League looks set to run with a reduced membership for the 2020/21 season with the competitions official website reporting four clubs have resigned from its top three divisions.
Premier Division Brackley Town Saints along with Division One East Didcot Town Development and Marlow United as well as Division One West New College Swindon have all opted to leave the competition according to League secretary John Ostinelli.
The news, coupled with the FA’s decision to null and void competition following the curtailment of the 2019/20 season – so no promotion or relegation – means that the Hellenic League Premier Division will, as it stands, run with 18 teams instead of 20 while the Division One’s East and West should have 15 each.
The Premier Division had already been running a team short since the start of the 2018/19 season when Oxford City Nomads withdrew while the summer of 2019 saw Ascot United move to the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League – Chipping Sodbury Town were expected to replace them but remained in the Western League on appeal.
Author note: For clarity, I believe the no promotion or relegation rules from the FA for the end of the 2019/20 season at steps 3 – 7 also means no new clubs will be admitted (I can’t find written proof but I am sure this is the case) which explains why the Hellenic will run short of clubs. I haven’t seen news though from neighbouring leagues like the Combined Counties around whether any clubs have dropped out.
On a more positive note though, Ostinelli was able to confirm there would be a fourth division in it’s out of Pyramid regionalised Division Two setup – an innovation that has proved a useful stepping stone for several clubs (Chalvey Sports, Long Crendon, Langley amongst them) keen on making the jump to step 6 football.
The news of the additional division provides a home for the recently reformed Hungerford Town Swifts side in the West division where they’ll go head to head with Woodcote FC who have transferred from the Thames Valley Premier League (speculation alert: this would, you would think open a TVPL Premier Division spot for Marlow United?).