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Bicester Forced To Turn Down Promotion

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Bicester Town have been forced to turn down promotion to the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division – for a third successive season.

According to the Oxford Mail, after ending the campaign as Division 1 East runners-up, the club were eligible to return to the top flight. However, a clause in their ground share agreement with Ardley United, combined with the lack of a suitable ground in Bicester, has meant they once again must reject the opportunity.

Vice-chairman Alf Pickett admitted everyone at the club remains deeply frustrated by being unable to play matches to their home town, telling the newspaper: “Yes, we have had to formally turn down promotion again,” he admitted. “It’s the third season in a row we have had to do so.”

The club have used Ardley’s pitch for three years. They were previously based at the Oxford Road Sports Ground but were forced to move following a falling out with the Bicester Sports Association, which owns the site and have since looked to develop the area into shops.

With Premier Division teams playing more games than those in the leagues below, Pickett acknowledges it is impossible for both Bicester and Ardley – who won the Division One West title – to groundshare in the top flight.

“The pitch just cannot take that number of matches – no pitch can,” he said. “But the whole situation comes back to not being able to play in Bicester. The town is one of the fastest-growing in the whole of Europe, yet the only senior football team in it cannot play in that town. Our frustration is that there is no reason why Bicester Town cannot play at Oxford Road. The pitch is there, just wasting away. It doesn’t look as though Pingle Field is a possible, so whether another option is Whitelands (Farm Sports Ground) we’ll have to see. The long and short of it is that we need to be playing in Bicester. Our sponsors want us there, the players and supporters want us there, but we cannot be there”.

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