ROMSEY Town look like being spared relegation from the Sydenhams Premier Division.
All looked lost for the Bypass Ground club when they finished rock bottom of the Wessex top flight with just 22 points and an horrendous goal difference of minus 99.
But they were pushed up a place when fellow strugglers New Milton Town were deducted three points for failing to fulfil their final fixture at Newport IoW and it now looks as if circumstances have favourably conspired to save Town from the drop.
It was revealed this week that Football Association have instructed the Sydenhams League to place Hayling United in the second relegation spot instead of Romsey.
The shocked Humbugs thought they were well out of relegation danger having finished 16th, 22 points clear of Romsey, but they are likely to lose their top-tier status because of ground grading issues at their Hayling College home.
To add insult to injury, news of Hayling’s probable demotion arrived in the same week as Steve Poulton, their man ager for the last 18 months, quit the club.
In a further twist, Alton Town have been advised by the FA that they will be moved out of the Wessex League into the Combined Counties League, but it is understood that the Anstey Road outfit – Wessex members for the last 11 seasons – intend to appeal.
The proposed constitution, due to be presented to the SWL annual general meeting on Tuesday (June 4), features Romsey in a 22-strong Premier Division along with Sholing and Winchester City Community FC, who have dropped down from the Southern League, and promoted Division One pair Brockenhurst and Whitchurch United.
News of Romsey’s likely reprieve was not a total shock to manager Danny Barker who said: “We didn’t finish bottom and we always felt Hayling’s ground grading might come into it and that we’d have a slim chance of staying in the Premier.
“We feel we’ll only improve on the field, so as long as we’re definitely in the Premier, we’ll have the opportunity to make sure we stay in year after year in own right.
“When you look at the set-up of the division now with Sholing and Winchester coming in, I think it’s great. It’s going to be an even harder league, but it adds extra competition. It looks as if the Wessex is getting back to how it was a few years ago when it was really competitive with lots of good sides.”
Romsey chairman Ken Jacobs said: “It means a lot to any club to be in the Premier Division. Once you go down, it’s a very hard job to get back in.
“Every club needs money and you don’t get the sponsorship in Division One that you get in the Premier which has more prestige.”
Stunned Hayling chairman Ian Gollop described the proposal as “unbelievable.”
He said: “They know we don’t have a lot of money and each season is a hand-to-mouth existence for us.
“Our temporary fence on the far side of the pitch could be the problem but, because we play in a school, we are limited with what we can do.”
Proposed Sydenhams Wessex League constitution 2013/14 -
Premier Division: AFC Portchester, Alresford Town, Bemerton Heath Harlequins, Blackfield & Langley, Bournemouth Poppies, Brockenhurst, Christchurch, Downton, Fareham Town, Fawley AFC, Follands Sports (for merly GE Hamble), Hamworthy Utd, Horndean, Lymington Town, Moneyfields, Newport IoW, Romsey Town, Sholing, Totton & Eling, Verwood Town, Whitchurch Utd, Winchester City Community FC.
Division One: Amesbury Town, Andover FC, Andover New Street, Cowes Sports, East Cowes Vics, Fleet Spurs, Hayling Utd, Hythe & Dibden, Laverstock & Ford, New Milton Town, Petersfield Town, Pewsey Vale, Ringwood, Stockbridge, Tadley Calleva, Team Solent, US Portsmouth.