Hartley Wintney have confirmed that they will be unable to take promotion from the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League this season.
The club announced the news via a statement on their website cited the improvements required to meet a ground grading by the end of March as the primary reason for their decision.
Their statement in full read:
“It is with significant regret that we have to announce that the dictates of the ground grading panel will preclude us from pursuing our aim to gain promotion this season. Visits and advice from the ground grading committee have necessitated our reconsidering the viability of completing the necessary improvements in time for next season and, more importantly, by the end of March 2016.
“Whilst the majority of works were known, the requirement to enclose the ground within the boundary of the established hedging is at this moment prohibitive.
“The Club are fully committed to carrying out the necessary works, commencing in the close season, to ensure that Hartley Wintney FC can approach the future with confidence and can give the players and management the stage which their efforts deserve. This will allow us to seek promotion next term, should our league position allow.
Joint Manager, Dan Brownlie:
“I have to admit, I was gutted when I first heard the news. There has always been open and honest streams of communication between us and the chairman and committee, and having followed the process from its birth, the frustrating end result is not through lack of effort. It’s an incredibly supportive club, but do not let its ‘family feel’ environment fool you; this is a club that demands progression and bringing the best possible football to Hartley.
“The plans are in place and are above and beyond the expectation of the league (and us!) but demonstrates the way in which this club go about their work.
“Whilst we are all disappointed to learn the news, let it not detract attention away from what has been an incredible season. A great run in the FA Cup which saw us beat well fancied sides of higher league status.
An FA Vase campaign that saw us bow out to what looks to be the eventual winners, and lastly, we remain on track with our biggest challenge, to win the league title. Let us not forget that this still remains a fairly new squad; to have achieved what we have done so already is terrific, to think what could come in the near future is frightening.”
“Joint Manager, Anthony Millerick, added:
“The process has always been transparent throughout, with the club involving the management team at all stages of the planning. It hasn’t been for a lack of trying or a lack of want that has seen us come up slightly short.
The club has my full backing and I am really excited to see the work commence in the very near future, which will ensure our progression through the football pyramid should we be in a position to do so.
“In the meantime, we are committed to doing what we have been doing all season, winning games of football!”
Source: Hartley Wintney FC