EVESHAM UNITED’S victory in their appeal against an enforced switch to play in the Northern Premier League will be one of their most crucial results in recent years, according to manager Paul Collicutt.
Relieved chairman Jim Cockerton said he was ‘over the moon’ after the FA Appeal Board at Wembley decided the Robins will not be moved into Northern Division One South.
Cockerton, who joined club secretary Roger Westmacott at Tuesday’s hearing, was delighted that ‘common sense had prevailed’ so Evesham can now prepare for a 24th season in the Southern League.
The club also issued a statement thanking the football community for their support.
“It has been a horrible few weeks but I’m relieved it’s all over and I’m pleased we can look forward to the new season in the Southern League,” said Cockerton.
“If we had been moved it would have left us in turmoil, but common sense has prevailed. We worked hard on putting our case together and the chairman of the panel said it was a no-brainer when we pointed out the regulations in the FA’s own handbook.”
It has been three weeks of torment since Cinderford Town, champions of Southern League Division One South & West, had decided they did not want to be promoted, despite applying for it and passing all the criteria, and the non-League compilations had to be redrawn.
Had Evesham been moved to the Northern Premier League, with trips to Barnsley, Sheffield and Lincoln, they would have faced an extra £10-12,000 expenditure which would have left real questions over their sustainability.
Collicutt admitted an enforced switch could have left the club on the brink financially, just as they had got their finances on an even keel after ground-sharing at Worcester City for six seasons as they waited for their Jubilee Stadium to be built.
“Having to move leagues could have killed us,” said Collicutt. “The club has just recovered from all the debts following having to ground-share at Worcester.
“For everybody connected with the club, winning the appeal is great news. The FA have got a tendency to not change their decisions and I feared the worst but they listened to our case and showed common sense.
“The chairman and Roger deserve a big pat on the back for all the hard work to prepare for the hearing.
“I genuinely feel it’s one of the biggest results for Evesham United on or off the field in many a year.
“The past few weeks have been hard. I’ve tried to be positive amid a negative environment for the past two or three weeks but it’s been a big worry.
“However, it’s also pulled everybody together and I hope now that the people of Evesham will turn out in the big numbers to back their local club once the season starts.”
Collicutt admits rival clubs have been tracking Evesham’s players in the past few weeks of limbo but he will be sitting down with the squad to secure their signings.
The manager has already recruited for the new campaign. Jordan Ryan, Elliott Kennedy and goalkeeper Sam Gilder have switched from Collicutt’s former club Bishops Cleeve, while Tewkesbury-based Lorcan Sheehan has moved from Cinderford.
Ex-Cinderford man Joe Turley has also agreed to join having returned from six months in Australia.