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Non league club shocked at being demoted two divisions – comes with a twist

One non league club have been left shocked this week at finding out that they are being removed and demoted down two divisions.

Southwick FC have said that they are forced to leave the Southern Combination League after losing the use of their ground.

The Wickers, who were founded in 1882, say that ‘previous debts’ have forced them to move out of Old Barn Way, now they will compete in the Mid-Sussex League for the 2020/21 season.

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Southwick FC tweeted the following statement on Wednesday: “This afternoon the club have been informed that we have been removed out of the National League system and we have dropped two divisions into the Mid Sussex Football League.

“This has come as a total shock to the club and everyone at the club is devastated as it is completely out of our hands.

“We have been founders of the county league since 1920 and we have been removed.

“The players and committee are also very excited for the new project and getting back into NLS. Management and players have all committed to getting this club back to where it should be and we are 100 per cent confident of this happening.”

The Wickers said their thanks to the many clubs and fans in the non league community who have expressed sympathy. They tweeted on Thursday morning: “Thank you to everyone who has sent us their best wishes, we are still in shock however we will look at this as a new opportunity to get the club back on its feet and back where it belongs!”

However there is a twist to this story, with the league and Football Association confused with the club’s statement.

SCFL chairman Steve Nealgrove said: “We knew there was an investigation happening by the FA into Southwick FC but we have not been notified by the FA as to the outcome – we have like many people read about this initially on Twitter and then later received an email from the club informing us of their situation.

“This is devastating news for the football club and I am trying to find out more as it seems very severe to relegate the club out of the NLS to district football and I am also very disappointed in the FA in not informing us at the same time as the club.”

Inquiries by the Worthing Herald on Thursday led to the SCFL and FA both saying any demotion is not down to them – which begs the question, who has ordered the demotion.

The FA issued a brief comment, saying: “Southwick FC remains a member club of the National League System’s South-ern Combination Football League.”

Probed further, the FA added it had nothing to add, SCFL chairman Steve Nealgrove said Southwick’s relegation from the league to the Mid Sussex set-up was not down to the league.

He told Worthing Herald: “I have spoken to the FA at length. We are both confused about their (the club’s) statement as neither the FA nor the SCFL have any knowledge of this. There is a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday between the FA and the SCFL on this matter.”

A Southwick FC spokesman said: “There is confusion surrounding this decision and we are awaiting further information.”

Twitter user @atilatstokbroka said: “After years of appalling stewardship my historic local club @SFC_TheWickers has been reconstituted as a CIC and has a bright future. At this precise moment authorities decide to throw Southwick out of the County League because of previous owners’ debts. A disgusting decision.”

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