Chipping Sodbury Town win appeal to stay in Western League
CHIPPING Sodbury Town FC have won their appeal to stay in the Western League – but fans are being warned to enjoy the local derbies while they can.
Manager Scott Gibson told the Voice that the club had won the battle with the Football Association over being moved into the Hellenic League – but was likely to lose the war.
Club officials and supporters were left in shock when they were told the FA was moving them from the Toolstation Western League to the Hellenic at the end of the season.
Although the leagues are both at the same level of the football pyramid, the Hellenic League includes more clubs in the Home Counties and the club faced a big increase in away travel distances.
At the moment the Western League offers derbies with teams such as Bitton, Brislington and Cadbury Heath, and Chipping Sodbury’s 10th-place finish was partly motivated by a desire to keep them, as losing the income from derby crowds would have been financially damaging.
It was the short notice the FA gave of the switch which was key to Chipping sodbury's successful appeal.
Scott, above, said the club was given just a month’s notice of the switch by the FA, breaking the association’s own rules, which state that two months’ notice must be given.
Club secretary Les Theobald, fixture secretary Geoff Endicott and chairman Mike Fox worked with Scott on the appeal and Les discovered the FA’s mistake. He said they were not given a warm reception as the FA accepted it had got it wrong.
Scott said: “We have succeeded on a technicality but the biggest problem is that they want 20 teams in our league and next year, there will be 21.”
He said most clubs in the region were expecting the FA to announce a big shake-up of leagues for the 2020-21 season, which could see Chipping Sodbury and many other local teams moved north into leagues playing against more teams from the Midlands.
Scott said: “We’ve won this battle but we’re going to lose the war.
“Next season could be our last in the Western League so people should make the most of it.”
The new season starts on August 3 and pre-season is about to start for the club.
Scott said new recruits to the five teams – 1st team, reserves, A team, under 18s and women’s – were always welcome.
Men train on Tuesdays and women on Thursdays, with both sessions starting at 7.30pm and taking place at the club’s ground at the Ridings, Wickwar Road.
Main picture: Chipping Sodbury Town in action against Plymouth Parkway at the end of last season. Photo: B.East Photography