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Wessex League looking at big shake up
The news that Sholing FC have resigned from the Southern League will come as a boost to the officers of the Wessex League who were looking at a crisis developing within their competition.
With Winchester City seemingly destined for the wooden spoon in the Southern League Division One South and West and allegedly having made it clear they would not entertain a reprieve as they have financial problems the Wessex League’s top division at least may look a little healthier next season.
There had been worries that they could be losing a number clubs for various reasons and Stockbridge, New Street and Whitchurch United were interested parties as the First Division they currently play in is several clubs down and in need of new blood.
An additional worry for the league is the proposed merger between Southern League Bashley FC and Wessex League New Milton FC which would place the new club in the higher league and also Premier Division Alton Town are currently fighting a battle to survive as their landlords have given them notice to quit their ground.
In the First Division Fleet Spurs have apparently made enquiries about a sideways move from the Wessex to the Combined Counties League and if the FA agreed to that change then the Wessex League would be well within their rights to ask why the long awaited shake up of the league constitutions has not gone ahead.
A cursory look at the Western League First Division table will show the bottom four comprising of Shrewton, Devizes Town, Westbury United and Warminster Town, all Wiltshire sides and all within the Wessex catchment area.
The Wessex League would welcome any of those clubs although Warminster have only recently made the opposite move and in the Hampshire Premier League the only one of their member clubs in a position to go up are runaway leaders Locks Heath who have floodlights at their ground but, it is believed, have not made the improvements necessary to make the jump to the Wessex League.
One other outsider would be the new Andover/Sparsholt College team who were being lined up for a place in what would be the merged Hampshire Premier/Hampshire 2004 League.
It is understood the Premier League expect to be up to full strength next season which means the College side could be put in the lower division alongside Andover Lions, but in a further twist the Wessex League have made overtures to them also.
That marriage would only go ahead with special dispensation from the FA and also a relaxing in the floodlight clause as the Portway Stadium is not going to be lit up in the near future.
Ironically any funding to help relight the ground is dependent on the club playing at a higher level and that cannot be attained without floodlights so something somewhere needs to give.
All this shows only too clearly the need for all to work together to make sure as much as possible that clubs play at their correct level and can survive the current economic situation.