Willenhall Forced To Accept Demotion

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Following some days of speculation, Willenhall Town have announced that they will be playing in Division One of the West Midlands (Regional) League in 2017/18.

The club confirmed recently that they would be moving to Wednesfield FC’s ground following their departure from Queen Street Bilston to make way for their academy.

Wednesfield’s announcement that they had successfully won their appeal against a league ground grading to have their ground suitably graded to meet Premier Division standards has facilitated their promotion to the Premier Division.

Chairman Simon Hall said: “It was announced at the AGM of the West Midlands (Regional) League, as much to our surprise as to other attendees, that Willenhall Town would not be able to play at Wednesfield in the Premier Division.

“This is apparently because Wednesfield’s ground is graded at Grade H and as Willenhall having played at G cannot play in the Premier there.

“We have taken this up with the FA at Wembley and have been advised by them that the rule stands and that there is no discretion to be exercised and so whilst Wednesfield will rightly take promotion and play from the Cottage Ground following a fantastic season, Willenhall would have to either find a new home ground to play in the Premier, accept demotion into Division One or fold.

“Some twenty-eight clubs groundshare in the league so there are not many local grounds to share and we have had to consider that we do not pay our players and cannot expect them to do longer trips just to get to a home match. Similarly, we need to be respectful to sponsors and play and promote their business locally. We did not feel it was a palatable option to fold.

“As such, after a week where of anxious decision making we can confirm that we have taken the decision to step down into Division One and play from Wednesfield as planned. Folding is not something we felt was appropriate after a good season and certainly if the Club were to ever fold we wish that to be our choice and not influenced by a governing body decision.

“Whilst we are far from happy with this ruling and the decision and the outcome of our “appeal” we now have to accept that for this season at least we will be in Division One. We are pleased to finally be basing ourselves from the Cottage Ground and have valued the support and discretion of Wednesfield during recent weeks.

“We now look at this as a new opportunity to re-group, develop and grow.
We have already been contacted by our longest-serving sponsor Bloxwich Environmental Services to confirm they understand and support our decision, and we believe that two sponsors who joined us last season will be returning also. Hopefully more will follow.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues at Willenhall and for Wednesfield this week for their support, time and consideration in the decision-making process to the former and from the latter for their patience. They are truly what Grassroots football is about”.

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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