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Three 7th tier clubs demoted by the FA after failing ground grading

Three 7th tier clubs have been demoted by the FA after failing ground grading, confirming the news in statements on Wednesday.

North Shields have failed the ground grading and will be demoted, creating a reprieve for 17th in the NP1E, and a promotion for a runner-up at Step 5 of non league according to Peter Miller.

Skelmersdale United have also failed the ground grading and will be dropping down a tier, meaning a reprieve for 17th in the NP1W, and a promotion for a runner-up at Step 5.

Lymington Town are rumoured to be the third club to fail the ground grading and are said to be demoted. This would create a reprieve for 17th in the S1S, and a promotion for a runner-up at Step 5.


North Shields Football Club regret to inform supporters that after failing to have stipulated ground improvements in place that the FA have relegated us from Step 4.

The club has provided extensive evidence to the Football Association with the plans in place and proof of funds as well as a very strong appeal put in place has been rejected by the FA.

We are disappointed to say that club will now be relegated from Step 4 after a highly successful season and will be competing in Step 5.

We will make a further statement regarding next season once we hear steps from The FA.

The club would like to thank our supporters & sponsors for their understanding and patience throughout this lengthy process.

The club will not be making any further comments at this time.


On behalf of the directors of Skelmersdale United Football Club and on my own personal behalf I would like to express our sincere disappointment at having been relegated from the Northern Premier League today due to failing ground grading criteria for that level of football.

What has happened over previous years with the club I am unable to comment on and it would be inappropriate to do so, having only joined the board in June 2022.

What I can say though is the current problems started with the JMO Sports park ground failing the appropriate FIFA ‘Bounce Test’ criteria last summer.

Official communication was only received from JMO on 14th March 2023 stating that they had not carried out the works required having told the football club back in August 2022 not to contact them any further and that they would contact the club when there was any update on the matter.

In the interim period the club have explored numerous other opportunities to secure a ground fit for playing at the appropriate level including negotiations with Burscough FC to improve facilities at their ground until we were able to secure a ground back in the Skelmersdale area for our club.

In point of fact, Burscough had actually agreed to complete the requisite improvements for their ground and this work is actually due to commence on Tuesday 2nd May 2023.

Despite being shown the plans and work start date at our FA Appeal hearing today, the appeal board ruled against us due to the work having not started prior to the deadline date of 31st March 2023.

I must stress at this point that our club would not have been able to compete in the Northern Premier League without the help and continued support of Burscough FC.

We remain in regular dialogue with West Lancashire Borough Council who are working with the club to secure a ground back in the Skelmersdale area in the very near future.

It is disappointing I know for our loyal and regular supporters who have continued to follow the club through the recent years of turmoil and upheaval.

Please stick with the club, we will re group, refocus and hopefully bounce back in due course.

Our end of season Player awards evening is due to be held on Friday 5th May 2023 from 7.30pm onwards at Upholland Labour Club.

Please come and join us on the evening and show your appreciation for the fantastic job that Richard Brodie. his staff and the players have done during the course of the 2022/23 playing season.

Myself and other committee members will be there on the evening please take the opportunity to come and speak to us on the evening, your thoughts, views and comments on the best way forward for the club from here would be appreciated.

This club will survive and will hopefully be back playing in the Skelmersdale area soon.

Gordon Johnson, Chairman, Skelmersdale United

Fans gave their reaction with three 7th tier clubs demoted by the FA after failing ground grading…


@brianfoster4274: I just hope that for consistency, the NLN relegate Peterborough Sports otherwise a precedence has been set by allowing a club to stay in the league which hasn’t completed necessary ground requirements in the given time frame.

@JoeToonMad1: Terrible decision, if investment at non league is needed, bigger clubs should try and help out.

@UTM_Mariners: Well that’s a right kick in the nuts! Rivalry aside, I’m genuinely gutted for the club, after more than capably holding their own up there this season. πŸ™

@Terrymacc1967: Feck the fa magnificent achievement this season by everyone at shields, you should all be proud of what you have done. Up the robins!

@onlygotone_: Gutted to hear that. The FA need to do more to help with clubs like yourself, especially with the likes of Covid crippling most clubs for 2 years. There needs to be a realistic approach on these decisions. Good luck next season

@WASNAPPER: Absolutely terrible decision, the club has worked so far to raise the funds for ground improvements and proved they were capable of competing at that level. No wonder lower league football is struggling when the leagues make ridiculous decisions like this.

@leemo1971: Gutted for you tbh, I know we at Taddy Albion backed you, personally think you were the nicest bunch of people I’ve met in the last season, hope you bounce back and I’m sure you will do too, stick at it and all the very best for next season too…..

@mikey_emery: Genuinely gutted for everyone involved at the club. Top club, some great people involved, class fan base, only thing I won’t miss is them beating me in the last minute! I hope the group stick together and the management team and I’m sure you’ll bounce straight back up!

@Ajs1961Andy: What a tremendous football club you are. Best supporters by far. You did yourselves proud in this league. I am sure and hope you bounce straight back up. Absolutely gutted with the decision 😒. All the best from us at Cleethorpes Town. ⚽️😎

@JoshMcCluskey8: That’s awful. Personally thought it was a great ground when i visited earlier this seaaon with Runcorn in the FA Trophy. Good luck next season πŸ™‚

@mickcoll1: Total disgrace by the stuffed shirts of the FA

@JCh4rts: I assume you failed the ground grading which is a shame. Visited with @worksoptownfc on Saturday and good ground, good cafe, great fans and hard working team. I have been to worse grounds than yours and the decision to not let you complete work over the summer is a joke…


@PaulRoo6Times: Knock after Knock this brilliant little club gets 😞😞😞 Just seems really unfair after enjoying a very good spell the last year or so πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Somehow have to get their own identity back in the Town and quickly 🀞🀞🀞 Just so sad for everyone involved at the club, Hope things pick up πŸ‘

@ButlerBen92: Sorry to hear this lads. Gutted for you. Did a solid job in your first season back at this level. Hope you can sort out your ground issues and get back up to the NPL.

@JoshMcCluskey8: Hopefully a side with a decent ground will step up and let you share with them.

@APATBillShep: Sorry to hear this. What a few seasons issues with grounds you have had.

@adeleroyle: All that effort from the players and coaching staff gone to waste! 😑 well done lads you did the team proud, pity off the field admin / directors weren’t as committed. 😑

@Mr_Craig_93: Extremely sorry to hear this news, I wish everyone at the club the best of luck for the future.

@MiddyRed68: Sorry to hear this fellas. Hope you bounce back.

@DaveTatton2: So sad to here this news where is the support from the FA for these clubs good luck hope to see you back soon from the leek town massive blue πŸ’™ army

@beefeater407: Surely if they allow Peterborough Sports to stay in NLN then you must have cause to appeal again.

@B_S_L: Sad news, you’ve just had a cracking season and deserve better.

@JoeBillGibbo: Disappointing news for you all, obviously. Let’s be real though, the ground you’re sharing at is an abomination. I’m glad the FA are clamping down on it. Not been to one as poor as that in a while. Naturally wish you the best the though. You’ve got some good people involved!

@BenjiBarnes8: All that hard work, for nothing! Still proud of all the lads who were part of it. We got the club back where it belongs. It’s a shame that momentum couldn’t be capitalized on but hopefully the club can find an identity back in the Town. Good Luck.

@8M_Smith7: Sad but inevitable. I do hope this can be a catalyst for change and a great club can get back to playing in its home town, Ultimately that’s what’s needed. Gutted for the fans, they deserve better πŸ”΅βšͺ️

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