A division in the Southern League is to run one club short for the 2020/21 season after a team voluntarily demotes themselves.
This was confirmed on Tuesday as the Football Association revealed the club allocations for Steps 3-6 for the upcoming season.
Non league clubs up and down the country finally know who they will face in the new season which is set for around September.
Since then, fixture lists for the new league season as well as the pre-season friendlies are slowly starting to be announced on social media.
It was a month ago that Southern League Premier Division South club Blackfield and Langley sent in a request to the FA for voluntary relegation.
This comes after their investor, manager and players left to join AFC Totton, so now the club have no choice but to leave league status due to high travel costs and mandatory changes to their infrastructure.
Blackfield & Langley sat 18th, five points above the relegation zone, before the 2019/20 season was null and void because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to that decision by the FA to end their season now, Blackfield & Langley were set to play in the Southampton Senior Cup final at St Mary’s Stadium.
Vice-chairman Hans McDonald told the Advertiser and Times: “It breaks my heart what we have to do for the football club.
“The committee has put in so much hard work over the past three years.
“This isn’t about football. This is about ground grading and travelling costs.
The club holds optimism for their future despite voluntary relegation plans.
McDonald added: “We are going down to build up again.
“I’ve got the confidence in these lads to do just that. There is no doubt Fawzi and Ryan can get a team together to compete in the Southern League, but it’s all the things that go with it.”
Blackfield & Langley were Wessex League Division One runners-up in 2008–09, earning them promotion to the Premier Division.
In 2012–13, the club won the Premier Division, but did not apply for promotion to the Southern League due to the cost of upgrading their ground.
The club were Premier Division champions in 2017–18, earning promotion to Division One South of the Southern League.
The 2018–19 season saw the club win the Division One South title, earning promotion to the Premier Division South.
They remain optimistic and determined to go on and meet their ambitions of yet more promotions.
— Advertiser & Times (@Lymingtontimes) June 8, 2020
New player-manager Fawzi Saadi said, as reported by the Lymington Times: “We are very ambitious.
“Blackfield is a winning club, and we are used to that. We have won two promotions in a row so the aim for us this year is to do well in the league and cups.”
Well now it has been confirmed that the new Southern League season will be running a club short after the return of Blackfield & Langley to Step 5 was confirmed. Instead of 22 teams, there will be now 21 after the FA made Steps 3 to 6 null and void.
The Watersiders have been placed the Sydenhams Football League Wessex Premier Division as the FA granted their request they made earlier this year to take voluntary relegation from the Southern League Premier Division South, with the division to run one club short.
The following Clubs have also been removed owing to their withdrawal:
Felixstowe & Walton FC Reserves (Eastern Counties League, Step 6)
Sidlesham FC (Southern Combination, Step 6)
Brackley Town Saints FC (Hellenic League, Step 5)
Marlow United FC (Hellenic League, Step 6)
Brightlingsea Regent FC Reserves (Eastern Counties League, Step 6)
Didcot Town FC Development (Hellenic League, Step 6)
South Normanton Athletic FC (Midland League, Step 5)
NKF Burbage (Midland League, Step 6)
New College Swindon (Hellenic League, Step 6)
Team Solent (Wessex League, Step 5)
FC Broxbourne (Spartan South Midlands, Step 6)
FC Oswestry (North West Counties, Step 6)
Balham FC have laterally moved to the Southern Counties East League as they now ground share with AFC Croydon Athletic
Brimsdown FC have laterally moved to the Eastern Counties League (Division 1 South) as they now ground share with Tilbury FC
Tower Hamlets FC have laterally moved to the Southern Counties East League as they now Ground Share with Phoenix FC
The North West Counties Football League have confirmed Bury AFC and FC Isle of Man’s places for next season.
Emley AFC have moved back to the Northern Counties East Football League after putting in a request.
There was reaction after it was revealed that the Southern League division is to run one club short after team Blackfield & Langley demotes themselves…
Brave decision by @bandlfc . We wish them all the best & hope our paths cross again, possibly a psf.
All clubs are in the same boat in these unprecedented times & undoubtedly some have more lifeboats than others.
We are HWFC & will continue to be the best we can at all times. pic.twitter.com/RU9X1pyrw3
— Hartley Wintney FC (@HartleyFC) July 21, 2020
John wont be long before were back at it….club staying positive…..will be good to catch up bud…
— Byng byng3 (@Byngbyng3) July 21, 2020
Good for the league, plus it gives Blackfield a chance to rebuild
— Stephen Mooney (@spmooney68) July 21, 2020
Thank you ?, just looking forward to the season. Best of luck to all.
— Blackfield & Langley FC (@bandlfc) July 21, 2020
All the very best to @bandlfc next season, enjoyed the November awayday last year a lot.
— Hendon Football Club (@HendonFC) July 21, 2020
Voluntary relegation but won’t uphold clubs who already sealed promotion ??♂️
— MLC (@mattlc180) July 21, 2020
Is that so they can spend their way to further promotions? I mean, just what is the point?
— Old Swan (@bsfcnews) July 21, 2020
Maximum 75/100 each week wasnt sustainable
— Torpointboy (@torpointboy) July 21, 2020
Good luck to Blackfield & Langley after their decision to voluntarily relegated themselves. Kept an eye often in the last few seasons as you climbed the leagues, hopefully they can repeat that.
— Jason Lee ?? (@ForeverAYellow) July 22, 2020