Chipping Sodbury Town to appeal after shock league switch
CHIPPING Sodbury Town are to appeal after the Football Association decided to move them from the Western League to the Hellenic League.
Although the leagues are both at the same level of the football pyramid, the club is angry at the big increase in travel to away matches.
Other clubs in the Hellenic League include Windsor, Virginia Water in Surrey and Brackley Town, which is near Northampton.
Sodbury’s club secretary, Geoff Endicott, told the Voice: “On a geographical basis, we seem to the fall guys. I’m absolutely dismayed by the FA’s decision.
“It means travel will increase, there are more costs associated with the move, and a loss of revenue across gate income.”
Mr Endicott fears that the loss of local derbies against the likes of Cadbury Heath, Bitton and Bristol-based Roman Glass will mean a drop in the numbers of visiting supporters.
He also fears that sponsors will be less willing to back the club if the team is travelling many miles to fixtures.
The situation seems to have been prompted in part by the plight of Street.
Promoted as champions from the Western League to the Southern League in 2018, the Somerset club resigned from the higher league because they have lost sponsors, their manager and players. They have now been reinstated in the Western League for next season.
The FA’s decision has been blasted by fans, with many declaring it unfair and farcical on social media. Many fans denounced the distance for away matches to teams up to 120 miles away as “crazy”.
The appeal to the FA was being lodged as the Voice went to press.
Mr Endicott said: “The FA makes the rules and hears the appeal – it’s not independent. The chances are slim, but we have a good case.”
The FA each year has to move teams to balance leagues in the same tier of the football pyramid, but it’s not always a popular task. Last year there were 39 appeals against decisions.
Mr Endicott believes that some clubs in northern counties are flatly refusing to move – something that hasn’t been ruled out by Chipping Sodbury.
Picture: Chipping Sodbury's end-of-season 3-3 draw with Plymouth Parkway could turn out to be their last in the Western League if an FA decision to transfer them into the Hellenic League goes ahead. Photograph by B. East Photography