Staines Town’s senior season has come to an end with us finishing in 8th place in the Bostik League Premier Division.
Having come within an agonising four points of the play-offs, we now know that we will remain at the third tier of the non-League game.
However, what is less certain is which league we will play in next season, as the FA broadens the pyramid to encompass four divisions of 22 clubs at this level, replacing the existing three leagues of 24. A new division will be created, under the auspices of the Southern (Evo-Stik South) League, covering the central area of England (and, in theory, north Wales), while the Southern League’s existing Premier Division will cater for clubs in the south and west of England and Wales. The Isthmian (Bostik) League will, as before, cover the south east and Channel Islands, and the Northern Premier (Evo-Stik) League remains as indicated by its title. There will, however, be some adjustment of borders to accommodate the new division, with the Northern Premier League presumably losing a few of its more southerly teams to the new division, and the Southern League and perhaps the Isthmian losing some of their more northerly ones. The knock on effect of this is that the boundary running north/south between the Isthmian and Southern Leagues may also move, as has been the case in most of the recent seasons anyway.
As one of the furthest west clubs in the Isthmian League, it must be acknowledged that Staines Town may be one of those who are moved from the Isthmian to the Southern. Naturally we hope to remain with our friends in the Isthmian set-up, where we have played ever since 1973, apart from the six years we spent in what was then called the Conference (South). If we are, however, to be switched, it need not be as daunting as may be feared: Jamie Moore has analysed the journeys we might have to make, and estimates that there could be an additional 90 miles of travel over the whole league season. While it is disappointing that a reorganisation intended to reduce travelling could result in an increase for some, a change of some 4-5 miles per game is less arduous than it might have been.
Until all the promotion and relegation issues and play-offs are completed, of course, this is all speculation, and no definite decisions can be made. The Football Association will be circulating the proposed constitutions for the leagues at our level on Friday 11th May, and these will be published in the Non League Paper on Sunday 13th May.