Up to seven teams face relegation from TNL top flight

DOG FIGHT: Long Melford (black and white) will need to finish at least eighth-from-bottom to secure their Premier Division status this season
DOG FIGHT: Long Melford (black and white) will need to finish at least eighth-from-bottom to secure their Premier Division status this season

Clubs in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division have been rocked by the news that seven teams could be relegated this season.

As part of their plans to cut down costs and travelling time for clubs, the Football Association is intending to add new leagues at Steps 3, 4 and 5 in time for the start of the 2018/19 season.

And, to ensure that the transition is a smooth one, the FA has written to all Thurlow Nunn League top flight clubs, informing them the worst case scenario would see seven of them demoted.

Thurlow Nunn League chairman Peter Hutchings said he would be ‘very surprised’ if the total was that high, but admitted it was best that each of the division’s 24 clubs had been warned early on.

Had seven teams been relegated last term, both Hadleigh United (18th) and Long Melford (17th) would be playing First Division this season, as would fellow Suffolk side Haverhill Rovers (16th).

As it was, only Swaffham Town were sent down, with Essex duo FC Clacton and Wivenhoe Town both receiving reprieves.

“It really does beggar belief that only one club (Swaffham) was relegated last year,” said Hadleigh United assistant Andrew Crisp.

“We are already looking down the barrel of a gun.”

A decision as to how many teams are to be relegated is not likely to be made until the season ends on Saturday, May 5.