Saints face anxious wait on promotion application

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Levi Steele has scored 29 of Southam United's 71 league goals this season. Photo: Steve Green

FOOTBALL

SOUTHAM United scooped the team of the month award for February across the three areas of Hellenic League Division Two and there could be even better news to come if the Football Association approve their application for promotion to Division One, writes David Hucker.

Before the club’s two-year break whilst the new Bobby Hancocks Park complex was being completed, Saints played in Division One of the Midland League, part of the national football pyramid headed by the Premier League.

On re-launching the men’s first team, they entered the Hellenic League in Division Two North, competing against teams from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

While the Hellenic Premier Division sits at Step 9 of the pyramid (Step 5 of the non-league part) and its Division One West and East a tier below, Division Two – split into North, South and West – does not form part of the structure, so there is no automatic route for the Saints to move up to the next level, even if they finish as champions.

But, there is hope for the future as the Hellenic League have applied to the FA for the Saints to have direct entry into Step 6, supported by various written submissions from the club.

“This is outside of the normal promotion/relegation process and is entirely at the discretion of the FA,” said Saints chairman Charles Hill.

“In addition, if the direct entry is granted and, strange as it may sound, there is no guarantee that we would stay in the Hellenic League and not be subject to lateral movement.

“We expect, or at least expected, to find out the outcome of this by the end of May.”

United’s results have been impressive, but they are playing a number of development or reserve sides which have been no match for them and, if his young team are to develop, then manager Richard Kay needs to see them take on stronger opposition next season.

In winning the team of the month for February, the Saints accumulated maximum points from their three matches, all played on the Southam College 3G pitch, scoring 21 goals with none conceded.

Leading scorer Levi Steele has bagged 29 of their 71 league goals, meaning that he has scored more goals on his own than eight of the clubs have managed to do, illustrating the gulf between the teams.

Currently, the Saints lead Division Two North by 15 points, although nearest challengers Adderbury Park – who they beat 2-1 in the last fixture played before the league programme was suspended due to coronavirus – have two matches in hand.

With no more matches to be played, the FA Leagues Committee are to determine whether final positions will be based on points-per-game, or the season is declared null and void, in which case, there will be no promotion or relegation.

Although the Saints are outside the formal pyramid structure, it would seem logical for the Hellenic League to apply the FA ruling to its bottom tier.

Southam’s record is such that they would be declared champions on a points-per-game basis and that is what Kay is looking for.

“Hopefully, the FA and league will crown us champions,” he said.

“If we don’t get direct entry to Step 6, I expect we will apply for an official Step 7 league next season and try to do it all over again.”

However, it works out, the Saints’s new ground is certainly more than good enough to meet the grading standard for Step 6 and, with their women’s team, junior set-up and football academy, they are in position to progress further.