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All change for West Norfolk clubs as league expands

The Walks stadium home of King's Lynn Town Football Club
The Walks stadium home of King's Lynn Town Football Club

Thurlow Nunn League chairman Peter Hutchings has confirmed next season’s First Division is set to be split into two separate leagues.

The divisions — which are to be branded North and South — will be implemented as part of the Football Association’s proposed changes to the non-league structures.

Each division will contain at least 16 teams, although this is now believed to be 17, and, as it stands the planned changes will affect King’s Lynn Town Reserves, Downham Town and Swaffham Town.

Clubs in the Kershaw Premier Division, Suffolk & Ipswich League Premier Division, Anglian Combination Premier Division and the Essex and Suffolk Border League Premier Division will be given the opportunity to apply to make the jump from Step 7 to 6.

Any interested party would need to meet a basic ground grading requirement by May 31, though these, according to Hutchings, are ‘quite light’.

Clubs will then be given until 2020 to bring their facilities up to scratch.

Hutchings said: “We have had a number of applications and are expecting more. Each club needs to meet the ground grading, but these are quite light. We want to give everyone that is interested a chance.

“The rest of the work can be spread over a period of time.

“Our local Thurlow Nunn First Division sides are set to be welcoming current Anglian Combination outfits Mulbarton Wanderers and Harleston Town from next season.”

The changes will also see at least four sides relegated from the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division in an attempt to reduce numbers in the Eastern Counties League top flight.

Swaffham Town chairman Ian Sherwood believes the new structure for next season will have a real positive impact on local sides.

He said he welcomes the changes and is looking forward to next season.

“I think what the league have proposed is really positive,” said Sherwood.

“It will help clubs to cut down on the amount of miles that they cover and also reduce the fixture congestion we normally get this time of year.

“Only having 16 or 17 sides in the division will make it easier for fixtures to be rearranged if they are called off and reduce the number of midweek games.

“The changes will probably mean more games against local sides and I am looking forward to that, it is always nice to be playing your local rivals.

“Some details are still to be confirmed, but I am really pleased with the proposed set-up. I think it is going to be a good thing for all the sides in the league currently and those coming in as well.”

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