New challenges for Rugby Town as FA revamp non-league pyramid
By Jon Venner
Rugby Town discovered the challenge they will face for the 2021/22 season, after the FA confirmed details of their revamped non-league football pyramid this week.
The FA announced the make-up of Steps 3 to 6 of the structure, with Town set to compete in the United Counties League Premier Division South as they start a fifth season in a row at Step 5.
Having seen the last two campaigns cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the club will be hoping that a disruption free term can be played out this time, with Valley boss Carl Adams already looking forward to what will be his fourth season in charge.
Adams said: “It’s good that we’ve got an early indication of what we will be facing and we can crack on with planning for it now.
“It looks like we will have less travelling overall and we’ve lost a few of the strong teams from the past couple of seasons, but I’m sure some of those coming into division will be equally as tough too like Coventry United and Leicester Road.”
The rejig of the pyramid has seen the FA introduce a new division at Step 4 and two new ones at Step 5, and despite having declared the 2019/20 campaign null and void, the FA decided to combine the results from this with the curtailed season which ultimately ended in December to determine who would be elevated from Town’s division.
Despite finishing second and fifth respectively in each of the two seasons, the team with the best points per game ratio over that period were Shepshed Dynamo and they will now duly compete in the NPL Midlands Division.
Shepshed’s advancement came with no reciprocal relegation from Step 4, meaning that the original plan to offer up to two promotion places from Rugby’s division was scrapped, and 2021/22 will now see things reverting back to the normal champions-only promotion criteria.
Adams continued: “We know it’s going to be tough with only one place up for grabs next season, but if we can keep the core of the squad together and make a few quality additions to that, hopefully we can be up there challenging again.”
Nine of Valley’s opponents – Cogenhoe, Desborough, Harborough, Lutterworth, Northampton Chenecks, Oadby, Peterborough NS, Rothwell and Wellingborough – were part of their 2020/21 UCL Premier line-up, whilst Bugbrooke St Michaels and Long Buckby have risen a UCL level.
Leicester Road are another to have been offered an elevation – but in their case from the Midlands League Division One, with Coventry Sphinx and Coventry United moving across from that league’s Premier Division.
Four clubs – Biggleswade United, Eynesbury, Newport Pagnell and Potton – make a sideways shift from the South Midlands League, with Godmanchester completing Rugby’s division 20 team constitution by transferring from the Eastern Counties League.