Bexhill United hopeful that ground grading won’t be a barrier to promotion

The goal at the western end of The Polegrove, behind which Bexhill United Football Club is hoping to install a hard-standing spectator path
The goal at the western end of The Polegrove, behind which Bexhill United Football Club is hoping to install a hard-standing spectator path

Bexhill United Football Club is hopeful that its quest for promotion won’t be scuppered by FA ground grading regulations.

The Pirates are aiming to go up to the Southern Combination Football League Premier Division for the first time since the 1993/94 season (when it was known as Sussex County League Division One and the club played under the name of Bexhill Town).

The area where Bexhill United's proposed hard-standing path would be situated

The area where Bexhill United's proposed hard-standing path would be situated

With eight matches to go, Bexhill are in third place - two points behind second-placed Alfold and four adrift of leaders Steyning Town having played a game more than both.

See also: * Bexhill United boss: We can still finish in top two
* Bexhill United miss chance to go top after away defeat
* Bexhill United up to second after 4-0 victory

The champions will be promoted and the runners-up will also go up, as long as they are one of the best nine (of 19) step six level runners-up across the country on points per game. Bexhill’s current points per game is a very healthy 2.20.

As well as finishing in a promotion position on the field, Bexhill will need to comply with FA ground grading regulations for step five.

Bexhill currently possess the G grade, which they require for Division One, but they need to attain the F grade for the Premier Division.

The main issue facing Bexhill seems to be possessing the required amount of spectator hard-standing around the pitch at The Polegrove.

There has always been a concrete path along the southern side of the ground and since 2014 the club has laid a temporary material behind the eastern goal on matchdays.

But Bexhill need to construct a permanent path behind the western goal, without interfering with fellow ground user Bexhill Cricket Club.

Bexhill United chairman Bill Harrison says the path would only need to run across half the width of the pitch and that if the pitchside barrier is moved approximately a couple of metres west, it wouldn’t encroach onto the cricket outfield.

Bexhill United have held discussions with Bexhill Cricket Club and landowner Rother District Council, which would have to approve the construction of the path, but Harrison is optimistic of getting the go-ahead.

The deadline for ground work to be completed is March 31, but promoted sides have in several past cases been given a year’s grace to get everything in place.

Harrison says that wouldn’t be a problem as, if approval is given, constructing the path would only take two or three days and he would hope to have it in place for next season.

Another thing mentioned during a recent visit from the league’s grounds committee was putting in place an awning from the clubhouse to the southern end pitchside barrier to provide additional covered accommodation for spectactors.

Bexhill chairman Bill Harrison said: “I expect there wouldn’t be a ground problem and I think they (the players) would deserve it (promotion).

“They’ve played some really cracking football this year and it’s probably as good a side as I’ve seen there - and they’re good lads as well.

“They’re playing good, attacking football and people are coming through the gate. Everyone’s getting their money’s worth.”

After being without a fixture last weekend, Bexhill will return to action with an away game against Sidlesham this coming Saturday.

Southern Combination League Division One top half standings (played-points): 1 Steyning Town 23-57 (+39 goal difference), 2 Alfold 23-55 (+40), 3 BEXHILL UNITED 24-53 (+52), 4 AFC Varndeanians 23-46 (+28), 5 Selsey 24-45 (+23), 6 Hailsham Town 23-34 (+8), 7 Littlehampton Town 23-34 (+5), 8 Wick 23-32 (-6), 9 Seaford Town 24-30 (-7).