It’s all change for Football in Berkshire and the step 5 and 6 clubs this summer as focus switches to the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League for 2021/22.
That’s because the FA’s National League System restructure has switched the likes of Windsor, Reading City and Chalvey Sports – as well of course at the eleventh hour Wallingford Town – to the CCL which will mark its 100th year with a significant expansion.
In a press release, the competition chairman Chris Conlon (pictured top) has revealed that the expansion by 19 teams has meant an increase in sponsorship revenue for the competition and improved opportunities for referees: “The Combined Counties League entered its 100th year since it was created on Saturday as it held its annual general meeting in preparation for season 2021-22. The league was formed as the Surrey Senior League in May 1922. May 2022 will mark the league centenary.
“This is a special season for other reasons too. It marks the expansion of the league; which now has 59 clubs up from 40 clubs’ last season. This follows the FA restructuring of the NLS which has formed a new step 5 division to the West of London. This division was awarded to the Combined Counties League following a tendering process. The bid submitted by the CCL was judged to be the most suitable.
“In line with our expansion, Cherry Red Records have extended their sponsorship with a 50% increase to match the league’s new size. The bench kit & match ball sponsorship from MJM Sports has also been extended to cover the larger number of clubs.
“Our match official appointment team has also expanded under director of refereeing & observations, Martin Etheridge. Covering the new area his team will also appoint officials to our U23 Development division and two U18 divisions. These allow the league to develop young officials on the promotion ladder to ensure they are ready for NLS football. This has been extended to cover appointments for the Surrey Intermediate Elite League for next season giving another route to develop up and coming officials.
“The new line up includes a number of returning clubs including the late arrivals, Wallingford Town, only allocated on Friday after a successful appeal. They return after a period of 15 years away and hope to reach the heights of 2002 when they were Premier Division Champions.
“Season 2021-22 promises to be an exciting one.”