10th tier club Harlow Town have been told that they can’t get promoted this season after withdrawing from Southern League last season.
The club currently sit top of the Eastern Counties League Division One South with 63 points from 31 games played, a point clear of second place Clapton Community, but Harlow have a game in hand over them. Benfleet are 3rd with 58 points from 25 games played.
But it seems Harlow won’t be able to win promotion. In December 2022, Harlow Town withdrew from the Southern Football League, as problems with their artificial pitch left them unable to fulfill their fixtures.
In May 2023, the club announced that the problems had been resolved and that they had negotiated a return to the league pyramid for the 2023–24 season, being placed in the Eastern Counties League Division One South.
But they can’t go up having been made aware that a further penalty for their league resignation in 2022/23 is that they cannot be promoted from their current division for at least one season after withdrawal.
— Harlow Town FC (@HarlowTownFC) February 2, 2024
A recent statement from the club.
Much has been written and spoken about with regards to our failed pitch installation and our subsequent withdrawal from the Southern League at the end of 2022.
We worked hard and at significant expense managed to remedy the pitch issues with a major repair programme and still await the outcome of the legal case that was brought.
The penalties for our withdrawal from the league have been plentiful and broad reaching to include, fines, loss of revenue, repetitional damage, an inability to play in the FA Cup and of course the 2 step relegation into the Eastern Counties League.
In the last week we have been formally made aware that a further penalty for our withdrawal is that we cannot be promoted from our current division for at least one season after withdrawal. This we are sure is subject to an appeal process however feel that further appeals would prove to be as futile as the original one we lodged upon being relegated 2 steps. We are unsure whether our fellow league members have been made formally aware of this fact however think that highly unlikely based upon how teams have approached fixtures against us.
This formal notification comes at a time that we sit top of the league however can re-confirm that even if we are fortunate enough to secure what should be a play off place that an offer of a place will not be made to us.
It seems quite ridiculous that we could however fall foul of relegation if our league position dictated that.
What we have built this season in terms of squad and supporter base at the level we are at is quite frankly incredible and as always, we have conducted ourselves professionally and done things the right way and to the best of our abilities. This latest setback is a bitter pill to swallow and if the timings of the legal outcomes from our case had been different, we are sure the grounds for appeal would be there however that is now highly unlikely and as such we must turn our attentions to next season and once again the longevity of our wonderful Club. That said we still have opportunities in the League Cup competition and a league position to play for.
We’re sure you will agree that the squad have provided great entertainment throughout this season and more than ever will require your support for the remainder of this season to carry into next. Our Home support has been phenomenal all season as has the incredible travelling support, swelling many away clubs’ attendances as result and for that we thank you.
— Harlow Town FC (@HarlowTownFC) January 31, 2024
This is how fans reacted as the 10th tier club learn that they can’t get promoted this season after withdrawing from the Southern League last season…
@revpaulbartlett: You have to appeal. This is outrageous. Why couldn’t they tell us of this penalty at the same time as the original penalty.
@Sideline_Kiers: Jesus Christ!
@AdamMeagher: What a fucking shambles @ThurlowNunnL
@JimBwick: What organisation exactly is the decision coming from because it sounds like a personal grudge from someone hoping to see the club struggle and now they’ve gone top of the @ThurlowNunnL pulling the rug out from under their feet? Outrageous!
@TheRealLA1: Is what it is but we’ll have to win the league… 🤙🏾
@__Fr3nch__: I feel for you!! Sitting top and being told you can’t even go up is SHIT
@jackmartinn95: Football is for the fans, the players & football clubs!
@gbutler0385: Speechless 😢
@toptargets: This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
@26hpork: How unfair… Harlow can’t be promoted even if they finish Top of the League. Absolutely pathetic. 👎🏼
@JakeMurphyMedia: Absolutely shambolic Get done over by a bunch of cowboys Get relegated two leagues. Could win the league and not be able to get promoted! Absolutely shambolic by the FA!
@ScottKeys1988: Oh wow
@wearykitten4892: Nah that is a disgrace
@Andyw6868: So they would’ve happily relegated us if we’d have had a poor season 🤬🤬🤬
@stevenwade_: Unbelievable but we move. Next season gona be no stoping them winning the league 👏🏽👏🏽
@puffpuff65: Harsh imo, they suffered double relegation. That’s more than enough of a punishment. Let them work their way back up