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West Norfolk teams face Thurlow Nunn League shake-up

West Norfolk’s Eastern Counties League outfits learned this week about the FA’s plan to move towards a more symmetrical pyramid for the 2020/2021 season, writes Ed Colman.

The changes will affect both promotion and relegation issues next season.

Locally, Swaffham Town ply their trade in the league’s Premier Division while Downham Town, Fakenham Town and King’s Lynn Town Reserves all play in the League’s First Division North.

Changes to the promotion and relegation structure could mean that no team is relegated from the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division next term with the bottom team in the division able to avoid the drop if they are one of the two highest positioned teams (on a points-per-game basis) across the 14 Step 5 leagues.

The winners of the Premier Division will be guaranteed promotion to step-four for the 2020/2021 season but the division’s runners-up could miss out on going up.

Fakenham Town v Histon....Andy Cunningham new manager. (12722170)
Fakenham Town v Histon....Andy Cunningham new manager. (12722170)

A statement from the Thurlow Nunn League outlined the permutations for this season’s Premier Division runners-up, saying: “The second placed team will be promoted to Step 4 if they are one of the four highest positioned teams (on a points-per-game basis) across the 11 most southerly based Step 5 leagues.

“If not one of the four highest-positioned teams then the second paced team will have a play-off match against one of the bottom placed Step 4 teams with the winner securing a Step 4 place and the loser to play at Step 5 in 2020-21.”

Changes are on the horizon for West Norfolk’s First Division North sides with four clubs set to earn promotion to the Premier Division for 2020/2021, providing they meet the required eligibility criteria.

One of the West Norfolk sides bidding to do just that is Fakenham Town.

Ghosts’ boss Andy Cunningham said that only time would tell if the changes have a positive impact on local football.

“The jury is still out for me,” said Cunningham.

“Four teams going up is good for us as a club in the short-time as it increases our chances of being promoted this season, which is our aim for the year.

“However, I think clubs need to understand more about the planned organisation coming in from 2020/2021 before we can judge if this will be a good move.

“From the limited information I have at the moment, it looks like Step 5 leagues will be getting larger and as a result harder to get out of.

“That said, everything seems clear in terms of where we are and what we have to do this year which is good.

“We are focused on this year and we will wait and see what 2020/21 brings.”

The statement ended by saying, “With an increase in the number of Step 5 leagues from 2020-21 and a decrease in the number of Step 6 leagues it is likely that the footprints of the Thurlow Nunn League divisions will be slightly changed.”

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