EVESHAM United have vowed to fight a ‘joke’ decision by the FA to shunt them to play in the Northern Premier League next season.
The Robins confirmed they have appealed the decision to move them from Southern League Division One South to the Northern Division One South following Cinderford Town’s decision to refuse to be promoted.
It means that instead of playing Bishops Cleeve, Cinderford, Shortwood and newly-promoted phoenix clubs Hereford and Salisbury, the Robins will face the likes of Spalding, Barnsley-based Shaw Lane and Sheffield side Stocksbridge Park Steels.
Evesham chairman Jim Cockerton described the FA decision as a ‘joke’, secretary Mike Peplow called it a ‘disgrace’ and manager Paul Collicutt said it was a ‘kick in the teeth’.
It leaves the club facing a big extra outlay for travelling as they will need twice as many coach trips, costing around £6,000, while there are fears Collicutt could lose some of his players because of the extra travelling.
Cockerton said the club were sending off their appeal to the FA and expect to hear within the next seven days when will have a personal hearing at Wembley.
“We don’t wish to move to the Nothern Premier League – we are a Midlands team,” said Cockerton.
“Last season, we had ten teams in our league within an hour or an hour and five minutes within Evesham. Next year, if we are moved to the Northern Premier, we will have one maybe two.
“The FA says the overall mileage is more or less the same but that doesn’t take into account the time being stuck in the regular road problems on the M5 and M6 if we are going north. Google maps may say a trip to Manchester takes two hours but experience tells us it will be three or four.
“There will be the extra cost for more coaches too and the loss of revenue from playing derbies, as well as the financial hit in missing out in games against Hereford and Salisbury, which will attract big crowds.
“Cinderford have caused the problem. It’s nothing we have done but we are paying the consequences for them deciding they don’t want to be promoted.”
The non-League compilations had been confirmed by the FA on May 15 but Cinderford, who were champions of Evesham’s league, then decided they did not want to be promoted.
Peplow said Evesham only discovered they will be shoved north via an email last Friday.
“When I opened the email, I almost fell off my chair, I was so surprised,” said the secretary. “It’s a disgrace. It seems we’ve been punished for Cinderford’s mismanagement.
“Our nearest next game next season in the Northern League will be Romulus in Sutton Coldfield which is 38 miles away, and then the next is Rugby which is 44 miles away.
“Financially, it’s a terrible blow. When we spent six years ground-sharing at Worcester before our the Jubilee ground was built, that crippled us financially and we’re only now back on an even keel.
“Player-wise, it could have a big impact as well. Our catchment area for players is Gloucester, Cheltenham and Swindon and those players would have so much more travelling.
“We’ve been left in limbo. Colly had got the squad in place, and everybody had been staying but now there are doubts.”
Cinderford said their surprise decision to say no to promotion was designed to protect the future of the club after their chairman, manager and assistant all left.
But it also angered Taunton Town, who were keen to take up the promotion place. They finished third but lost to Banbury in the play-off final.
Evesham, who joined the Southern League in 1992 from the Midland Combination, finished sixth this season, but had Cinderford announced they did not want to go up during the campaign, then that could have meant a play-off spot and a chance for Southern Premier football.