The Hallmark Security League’s Management Committee met with representatives from The Football Association to discuss its proposals to restructure parts of the National League system, which will have an impact on both our Premier and First Divisions.
On the back of the recent restructure announcement, which has already been given the green light by the FA Council, the League invited Laurence Jones, Head of League Services at the FA, and Ray Lewis, Chairman of the National League’s Committee to attend its Management Committee meeting held in Haydock.
The FA presented its proposals for the restructure of the National League System, which will include the creation of new Step 3 and 4 divisions in the Central Region (Midlands). The restructure also proposes to reduce the number of teams at Step’s 4, 5 & 6 to 20 clubs per division and create a new Step 6 division in the North West.
The League responded to the proposals presenting its own proposals for the restructure, which it believes would better serve the whole National League System, including tackling some of the geographical issues the current structure presents; the lack of promotion and relegation from some leagues, and the need for Step 7 (feeder to the Hallmark Security League First Division) to address some of the structural issues faced at that level.
While the League stated that its clubs didn’t support the reduction to 20 teams within each division, due to the potential loss of revenue, it did state the case for the creation of a second promotion position from Step 5 to Step 4. In our opinion, an additional promotion place is a key requirement of the restructure, either through direct promotion, internal playoffs, or inter league playoffs, in order to address the current bottleneck caused by having only one automatic promotional spot from our Premier Division.
The League also shared its concerns about the financial implications of the reduction in numbers at Steps 5 & 6.
Paul Lawler, Chairman of The Hallmark Security League, said: “The League welcomed the opportunity to listen to the FA’s proposals and share our own proposals. We fully support the need for the restructure of the National League System, but we do believe that these proposals don’t go far enough to benefit the game as a whole. While we disagree with the reduction of clubs in each division, we want to take the opportunity to push for an additional promotional place from our Premier Division, as having only one team promoted creates a bottleneck which penalises our ambitious clubs who want to progress up the system. As we have seen from the introduction of play-offs in our First Division, this creates a competitive League, and we believe additional promotion places from Step 5 would work as well.
“The proposals to create an additional division at Step 6 in the North West is a positive move, and will reduce the travelling distance for our clubs and provide further opportunities for clubs to progress from Step 7. The intention is to create two divisions at Step 6 with a minimum of 16 clubs, with a view to increasing to 20 clubs per division in due course.
“We thank the FA for coming to our meeting and listening to our proposals and we look forward to further dialogue as the restructure proposals develop.”