League lines up for next season

By David Watters

Harrow Borough and Ware are the Ryman League’s big winners in the Football Association’s annual summer reshuffle of the top levels of Non-League football.

The clubs – set to be relegated from the Ryman Premier and Ryman North respectively – are both celebrating this weekend after being handed reprieves in the FA’s allocation of clubs at Steps 1-4 of the National League system for 2017-18 season.

Published this weekend for clubs playing in the National League, Isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League, the allocation will be confirmed at the AGMs of the competitions in June following any appeals to the FA.

The Ryman League was the least affected competition in terms of clubs switching sideways with only Potters Bar Town moving laterally from the Southern League’s Division One Central to Ryman North.

They’ll be joined by three champions coming up from Step 5, Barking from the Essex Senior League, London Colney from the South Midland League and Eastern Counties League winners Mildenhall Town.

Reprieved Ware and the three clubs relegated from the Ryman Premier - AFC Sudbury, Canvey Island and Grays Athletic - are the other new names in 24 club Ryman North division as others moved south geographically to make way.

The internal switch sideways of Phoenix Sports, Thamesmead Town and VCD Athletic to Ryman South should also help cut down on travelling costs and times for clubs and their supporters in both Step 4 divisions next season. Southern Counties East champions Ashford United and Southern Combination champions Haywards Heath Town complete the line-up in Ryman South.

Margate, relegated from National League South, are back in the Ryman Premier after going up via the play-offs two years ago along with all four of the promotion winners from Ryman North and Ryman South, respective champions Brightlingsea Regent and Tooting & Mitcham United and play-off winners Thurrock and Dorking Wanderers.

As expected, 2016-17 Ryman Premier champions Havant & Waterlooville and play-off winners Bognor Regis Town will be kicking off in National League South come August.

Ryman League chairman Nick Robinson challenged Ware and Harrow Borough to make the most of their good fortune in a statement welcoming the FA’s allocation for what will be an historic season before Steps 3 and 4 are restructured for the 2018-19 campaign with a new division at each level.

The chairman said: “We are pleased to welcome new clubs and returning clubs and also to see both Harrow Borough and Ware retain their membership of the league. It is always difficult to know whether a club should be reprieved or whether another club should be promoted when there is a vacancy.

“In this case Harrow have been members of the League since 1975 and I hope they will heed the warning this season has given; Ware came back to us a year ago from the Southern League and I hope that this club will also respect the reprieve they have received.”

He added: “Next season is a transition season and all clubs finishing bottom of their divisions will be relegated so no club can rest on its laurels.”

For a full list of the allocations at Steps 1-4 visit: www.thefa.com.

Isthmian League Season 2017-18
(last season in brackets)

Isthmian Premier Division
Billericay Town (ILP)
Brightlingsea Regent (IL1N)
Burgess Hill Town (ILP)
Dorking Wanderers (IL1S)
Dulwich Hamlet (ILP)
Enfield Town (ILP)
Folkestone Invicta (ILP)
Harlow Town (ILP)
Harrow Borough (ILP reprieved from relegation)
Hendon (ILP)
Kingstonian (ILP)
Leatherhead (ILP)
Leiston (ILP)
Lowestoft Town (ILP)
Margate (NatSouth)
Merstham (ILP)
Metropolitan Police (ILP)
Needham Market (ILP)
Staines Town (ILP)
Thurrock (IL1N)
Tonbridge Angels (ILP)
Tooting & Mitcham Utd (IL1S)
Wingate & Finchley (ILP)
Worthing (ILP)

Isthmian Division One North
AFC Hornchurch (IL1N)
AFC Sudbury (ILP)
Aveley (IL1N)
Barking (ESL)
Bowers & Pitsea (IL1N)
Brentwood Town (IL1N)
Bury Town (IL1N)
Canvey Island (ILP)
Cheshunt (IL1N)
Dereham Town (IL1N)
Grays Athletic (ILP)
Haringey Borough (IL1N)
Heybridge Swifts (IL1N)
London Colney (SML)
Maldon & Tiptree (IL1N)
Mildenhall Town (ECL)
Norwich United (IL1N)
Potters Bar Town (SL1Cen)
Romford (IL1N)
Soham Town Rangers (IL1N)
Tilbury (IL1N)
Waltham Abbey (IL1N)
Ware (IL1N reprieved from relegation)
Witham Town (IL1N)

Isthmian Division One South
Ashford United (SCE)
Carshalton Athletic (IL1S)
Chipstead (IL1S)
Corinthian-Casuals (IL1S)
Cray Wanderers (IL1S)
East Grinstead Town (IL1S)
Faversham Town (IL1S)
Greenwich Borough (IL1S)
Guernsey (IL1S)
Hastings United (IL1S)
Haywards Heath Town (SCL)
Herne Bay (IL1S)
Horsham (IL1S)
Hythe Town (IL1S)
Lewes (IL1S)
Molesey (IL1S)
Phoenix Sports (IL1N)
Ramsgate (IL1S)
Sittingbourne (IL1S)
South Park (IL1S)
Thamesmead Town (IL1N)
VCD Athletic (IL1N)
Walton Casuals (IL1S)
Whyteleafe (IL1S)

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Where next?

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