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Cornard boss would favour move into ‘Essex division’

LOOKING SOUTH: Cornard United's managers would favour playing in a new Thurlow Nunn League South Division Picture: Mark Bullimore
LOOKING SOUTH: Cornard United's managers would favour playing in a new Thurlow Nunn League South Division Picture: Mark Bullimore

Cornard United could find themselves moved into a new Essex-dominated South Division of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division next season — with joint boss Ryan Lines all for it happening.

Thurlow Nunn League chairman Peter Hutchings has confirmed next season’s First Division is set to be split into two separate leagues.

The divisions — which are to be branded North and South — will be implemented as part of the Football Association’s proposed changes to the non-league structures.

Each league will contain at least 16 teams, with clubs in the likes of the Kershaw Premier Division, Suffolk & Ipswich League Premier Division, Anglian Combination Premier Division and the Essex and Suffolk Border League Premier Division all given the opportunity to apply to make the jump from Step 7 to 6.

Any interested party would need to meet a basic ground grading requirement by May 31, though these, according to Hutchings, are ‘quite light’.

Halstead Town’s location means they would be among the Essex sides potentially earmarked to make up the southern division, which could bring the benefits of reduced travelling costs.

Cornard’s location just across the border into Suffolk means they could end up going either way, but with trips to the likes of King’s Lynn, Norwich, Leiston and Framlingham possible in the North version, Lines is hoping they can also clinch a place in the South.

Clubs can register a preference but will not have the final say.

“In my opinion I would definitely want to go into the south because travelling for us would be a lot closer and easier,” said Lines.

“I come from that area so my recruitment is normally in and around Colchester.”

He said he hoped it would also help them attract some good players from a lower level that currently are not interested due to the travelling.

“There are a lot of good players in the Border League who do not want to do the travelling so if I could sell it to them as better that would help, as saying do you want to play for us, we are going to King’s Lynn at the weekend, doesn’t work well.”

Hutchings revealed the hope that the newly-formed South Division would be made up of sides from Essex, though this would be dependent on the number of successful applicants.

He said the league had already received 22 new teams have applications — including Kershaw outfit Lakenheath — four of which have been formally accepted and seven discounted.

All of the clubs have until March 31 to confirm that they are still interested in making the move.

Clubs will then be given until 2020 to bring their facilities up to scratch.

Hutchings said: “We have had a number of applications and are expecting more.

“Each club needs to meet the ground grading, but these are quite light. We want to give everyone that is interested a chance.

“The rest of the work can be spread over a period of time.

“Hopefully the South will feature Essex sides, but we are also keen to boost the number of Norfolk sides in the First Division.”

Speaking about the move to split the First Division, Lines said: “I think it is a good idea but it has just got to be thought about and sometimes the FA rush into these decisions and it could be shambolic.”

He said the situation with relegation places in the Premier Division this season, changed midway through this term from ‘up to seven’ to ‘up to four’ was not fair on clubs involved and firmer guidelines should have been made clear in the summer.

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