Better late than never as the FA gives its approval to the CML North/South idea...
Amid all the understandable frustration of the current lack of activity on the field, there was some good news - at least that's how I view it - for Central Midlands League member clubs this week with the FA's decision to back plans for a North and South set-up for 2011/12.
A statement issued by the League, via its Football Mitoo site and by email from General Secretary Peter Whitehead, reads:
The Football Association have granted us permission to form 2 divisions form our current Supreme and Premier Divisions. These 2 divisions will be step 7 status, one being formed from our Northern Clubs and the other from the Southern. The 2 most obvious benefits are the recruitment of new clubs and the large reduction in travel from our existing formation.
Annually 2 teams will be promoted one from the Northern Division and one from the Southern.
There are still some problems to be agreed, one being the subject of relegation down to us as it is not feasible for us to continually promote without relegation. Promotion will be subject to the applicable club fully meeting the grading requirements of step 6 (H grading). The other main problem will be promotion to CMFL which would require the formation of step 8 by the FA.
The timing couldn't be better as far as I'm concerned. Regular followers of the Eastenders and this blog will know that we've had problems already this season within the ranks, the cause of which can at least be indirectly related to the amount of travelling currently experienced in the CML.
I realising that even pointing out this fact leaves me open to accusations of naivety, given that everyone in the club was aware of the sort of distances we'd be completing when we first enquired about membership in 2008.
However, from the very start there was talk of a proposed regional split (hopefully to have come into play this season) which would cut down the length of our "away days" and it was this, along with the belated tilt at promotion to the Supreme Division towards the end of last season, which helped maintain enthusiasm within the ranks.
In fairness, we still have a core of players who are loving every minute of life in the CML - to such an extent that when talk about a possible return to "local football" surfaced in "Black October", Mack, Ian and I were left in no doubt that we would be looking for virtually a new team next term should that be the course decided upon; and this in a season in which we are struggling to find the form that took us so close last term.
Thus the above statement has provided a real shot in the arm. Of course it has to be ratified at the League's mid-season meeting on 18th January. However, given that a similar proposal had already gone through last season one would imagine the idea still commands the support of the vast majority of clubs, especially given that both the new divisions will boast Step 7 status, with chance of promotion to either the Northern Counties East League or the East Midlands Counties League.
Now, let's have a look at those Step 6 (H) ground grading requirements...