Non-league shake-up: Lancing, Littlehampton, Bexhill among Sussex teams promoted
The much-anticipated results of the FA's big shake-up of the non-league pyramid are in - and it's good news for numerous Sussex teams.
The FA had already said there would be numerous teams promoted from step six to five and from five to four in order to create an extra division at step four level. Nationwide, more than 100 teams are due to go up under the shake-up, which is designed to create equal sized divisions at the different steps.
Here, Lancing have been promoted into the Isthmian South East division - becoming the eighth Sussex team in that division.
AFC Varndeanians, Littlehampton Town and Bexhill have been promoted into the SCFL Premier Division from division one.
Montpelier Villa have gone up to Division 1 while Dorking Wanderers Reserves, Forest Row, Epsom & Ewell and Godalming Town have also gone into Division 1.
Lancing and Bexhill were among clubs to express their delight. Lancing FC chairman Steve Taylor confirmed the club had successfully applied to move up to step four next season.
Using points per game (PPG) from the past two seasons, which were made null & void and curtailed respectively, Lancing finished top on PPG over the two seasons which guaranteed them promotion.
Taylor said: “Myself and everyone associated with our club are thrilled and super excited about the challenges ahead, it’s a new adventure both on and off the pitch but one which we have been preparing for. The football we have played has been the most enjoyable to watch and PPG has showed just how consistent we have been over the two seasons – two years of hard work and successful results have been recognised and ensured the past two campaigns were not played in vain.
“The purists will probably argue that it's not an authentic promotion but no one can deny the efforts that the management team, the players, the committee, the supporters and our sponsors have put into this marvellous opportunity now being presented to us. Lancing FC are now entering their 80th anniversary as a club and we welcome everyone within the local community to join us on this new and exciting journey”
Joint manager James Rhodes added: “Today’s confirmation of promotion comes as huge credit to the lads, who have done themselves and the football club proud over the last two seasons in the SCFL, working tirelessly both one & off the pitch.
“Kane and I, along with the rest of the management team, are excited to press on and accept the new challenge of Step 4 football in the Isthmian league. Focus remains on Saturday’s Supplementary Shield final against Loxwood, but this will come as a good moral boost for all the squad. We relish what awaits us in the move up to Step 4.”
Bexhill United manager Ryan Light is also jubilant, telling us: "It’s absolutely fantastic news for everyone associated with the club. In an ideal world we would of loved to have celebrated promotion in the traditional way with our supporters at the end of the season but this is definitely the next best thing.
"We’ve been rewarded for our on field performances over 34 league games, which is actually more than a usual SCFL Division One season, so it’s certainly been well earned. The club have waited 28 years to be back playing at step 5. I feel we’ve been ready for the next level for a couple of years now and everyone is really excited about the challenge ahead."
In all, 20 clubs have been promoted to Step 4, 60 clubs have been elevated to Step 5 and 27 clubs have gone up to Step 6.