LITTLEHAMPTON Football Club will be playing in County League Division 1 in the upcoming season after a league restructure.
Changes to the league will see Division 1 increased from 20 to 22 teams, with Golds promoted after finishing fourth in Division 2 last season.
Loxwood, who finished fifth, are also in line for promotion with Golds, but they will have to wait on today’s (Thursday) appeal from Dorking Wanderers, who finished above them in Division 2 but were denied promotion because their ground did not meet league requirements.
The changes were unanimously voted in by County League clubs at the SCFL AGM last Wednesday. Under the changes voted in, Division 2 will stay as an 18-team league while Division 3 will go down from 16 to 14 teams.
The changes were voted in against the recommendation of the County League management committee, whose proposal said the changes should take effect from the 2013-14 season.
Paul Beard, who stepped down as secretary at the AGM – after giving a year’s notice – said: “The voting went against what the management committee had proposed and there’s been a fair bit going on since, with resignations.
“Peter Bentley, the chairman, wrote to clubs in Division 1 to gain their support to go up to 22 teams for next season.
“The management committee weren’t against going up to 22 teams, we just thought all clubs should be given a season’s notice, as we felt it was a bit unfair to just pick two teams from Division 2 to go up. If clubs had known this would happen last year, they might have fought harder to finish fourth or fifth, or brought in extra players.
“The management committee felt Division 1 should go to 22 teams for the 2013-14 season, not for the 2012-13 season. Eric Nunn, the president, and Steve Nealgrove, the vice-chairman, have both now resigned and I understand other people on the management committee may be resigning as well.
“Peter Bentley was nominated as chairman again at the AGM and voted in but then said he wants a couple of days to think about it. If he decides not to stay on as chairman, a special meeting will have to be called to find a new chairman.”
Peter Bentley was unavailable to comment.
Littlehampton boss Mark Bennett said: “There are some people who aren’t happy with the changes but, as far as I’m concerned, we’ll be in Division 1 next season. At a Division 1 meeting the vote to increase Division 1 to 22 teams was carried and it went through again at the AGM.
“I’d rather have got promoted the proper way, by winning the league or finishing in the top three, but I’m really pleased for everyone at the club because we’re back where the club should be.”
Shoreham and St Francis Rangers both stay in Division 1, despite finishing in the relegation places, with Chichester, who finished bottom, the only side relegated.