Mouth of the Tyne: Where will your team be placed when and if the non-league restructure takes place?
PUBLISHED: 14:21 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:21 20 March 2020
Uncertainty is the main word being used around sport at the moment. Nobody knows what is going to happen and Welwyn Hatfield Times and Herts Advertiser sports reporter Neil Metcalfe is definitely no different. That hasn’t stopped him from peering into his crystal ball mind you and seeing if he can unpick what might happen in next season’s non-league’s structure. Find out where he has placed your team in his latest Mouth of the Tyne column.
The non-league scene was going to be changed dramatically at the end of the current season, that was already a given.
The decision to create a perfect pyramid had already seen one new division created at step three while the culmination of that would come with a new step four division in time for the start of the new campaign.
The coronavirus has come along and caused huge problems, not least the question about whether this season is over or will it restart again?
Oddly though the restructure will probably have transcended that and will go ahead regardless so if it does, what does it mean for your club?
Before we start, a few assumptions.
One, I’m taking the decision that the current points totals are going to be the final ones and that league position will be decided upon a points per game ratio.
I’ve also said that where play-offs were required to decide a second promotion space, the team finishing second would gain that spot automatically.
Between step four and step five there was going to be a promotion/relegation play-off between the sides finishing bottom of the step four divisions and seven of the teams finishing second in the leagues below them.
The presumption here is that the step five sides all won meaning in essence if you finished first and second in step five, you’re going up.
Then we get to the Bury situation, a whole different can of worms. I appreciate that the actually Bury club still exist and could be placed in step two or even higher. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ve decided that they will not with a Bury Phoenix club appearing in step six, and there will be extra reprieves from relegation because of that.
Then it was just the small matter of placing the clubs as I thought was best using my own logic. I know, logic and football. A crazy notion.
The results though are fascinating.
Colney Heath will be promoted and far from being sent to some far-flung places, they should find trips aren’t as bad as first feared and will actually meet up with some familiar faces.
The Magpies will be put in a division with old Spartan South Midlands League rivals Tring Athletic, Biggleswade, Welwyn Garden City and Hertford Town while their furthest trips will be to Bedford Town, Barking and Marlow.
Welwyn Garden City’s switch from the Southern League to this Isthmian League group means they will lose all the trips to Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Potters Bar Town meanwhile will stay in the Isthmian League Premier Division but to be honest they are ripe for a lateral switch, with Kings Langley and Berkhamsted potentially being grouped together to the south-west of them and Ware and Bishop’s Stortford to the north-east,
I went with the decision to move Ware into the Southern League Premier Division Central along with Kings Langley and Berko but it’s a perm any three from five situation.
If the Scholars do switch they will have games against the likes of Hednesford Town and Nottingham-based Basford United to look forward to instead of matches on the south coast.
There were other coin tosses too. At step two who goes north and who goes south became a straight fight between Oxford City and newly-promoted Royston Town. I’ve said the Crows will go south while Oxford will finally be moved north. The decision could quite easily go the other way though.
A few of the Cambridgeshire teams will find themselves going into the Northern Premier League divisions with the longest journey St Neots Town facing for example the 216-mile minimum round-trip to Cleethorpes Town.
St Albans City’s victory over Braintree Town before the National League South closed down was enough to maintain their status at step two and their will be familiar faces to play with the likes of Truro City, Worthing and Chesham United all coming up.
There will be one relatively new visitor to Clarence Park though. Saints and Cray Wanderers have met in only four competitive fixtures and the only previous meeting at the Park was a unconvincing 3-2 FA Trophy success for the hosts in 2004.
And as for Stevenage and Hitchin Town it is pretty much as expected. Boro’s relegation will mean derbies against the likes of Boreham Wood, Barnet and Wealdstone while the Canaries would remain in Southern League Premier Division Central with Hertfordshire derbies against Berkhamsted and Ware.
One thing I would say is that this whole exercise was actually rather fun. Now that may be just a glimpse into the sad life I have but it made me realise just what goes into the final decisions.
You aren’t going to please all the clubs but in my head, these placements are the best of a bad world.
Things could and will change in the next few weeks and months but I for one will look forward to seeing how right or wrong I was when life finally returns to normal.
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