Discussions have begun to explore ways in which the number of clubs in the UniBond League Division One North and South can be expanded from 18 to 20 clubs for season 2008/09.
An initial meeting was held on 23rd August at West Riding County FA offices, involving representatives of the leagues at Step 5 and 6 of the non-League Pyramid, to discuss the way forward. From that meeting, a proposal was agreed for submission to the FA National Leagues Committee on 24th September.
The main points are as follows:
The 18th placed clubs in the two Northern Premier League Step 4 divisions (i.e. UniBond League Division One North and South) would be relegated at the end of season 2007/08.
If the Vodkat League receives a relegated club they would promote their champion club and possibly an additional club, subject to them meeting the entry criteria.
The Northern Counties East League would promote their champion club, subject to them meeting the entry criteria, and would like to receive a relegated club back.
The Midland Football Alliance could provide one club, subject to meeting the entry criteria and dependant on the geographical location.
The Eagle Bitter United Counties League could provide one club, subject to meeting the entry criteria and dependant on the geographical location.
Up to four clubs could be promoted from the Albany Northern League provided that the clubs finish in at least the top six places and they comply with Grading Category E. If this were not possible, then this may result in a requirement to move clubs from other areas.
Vodkat League chairman Dave Tomlinson said: “If these proposals are agreed, then we could possibly be one club down on present numbers at the end of the current season, but that is not guaranteed and we may not lose any at all. What is most encouraging from our point of view is that at present, there is no suggestion that it will be our league that suffers most when it comes to further clubs being recruited for Step 4 leagues.
“The Vodkat League Management Committee has always been very accommodating when trying to assist in the composition of the new league structures that have been brought in, and it can be argued that we have suffered as a result. We like to see our clubs progress, but we also want to maintain a good standard of competition in our leagues, and we feel that if these proposals are agreed this will be the case.
He added: “We are happy to support the proposal and hope that other leagues will do likewise to ensure a smooth transition towards the next stage of restructuring.”