A STRING of resignations and a loss of sponsorship has forced Andover Town to turn down promotion to the Southern League.

After spending months at the top of the Sydenhams Premier Division, the north Hampshire club eventually finished league runners-up to Blackfield & Langley but, with a major reorganisation of the non-League pyramid taking place this summer, the top two were given the green light to go up.

But, just days after the FA had included Andover in its provisional Southern League West line-up for the next season, the Bluebirds have had to inform football's governing body that they cannot move up to Step 4.

Three key club figures have resigned due to "work and personal commitments" - John Ward (chairman of the playing committee), Chris White (vice-chairman of the playing committee) and Margaret White (club secretary).

Their departures follow that of first-team boss Glenn Burnett who announced his retirement at the end of the season after Andover had won the Russell Cotes Cup.

The exodus of players has already begun with Sydenhams Premier outfit Lymington Town announcing the capture of Andover's star man, former AFC Totton winger Mike Gosney, along with Nick Watts from Hamble Club.

A club statement said: "The directors of Andover Town Football Club at their meeting on May 4 noted and celebrated the success of the team and the promotion to the Southern League.

"However, regrettably, key figures in the club have resigned for business and personal reasons and, with the consequent loss of significant sponsorship on an already very tight budget for 2018/19, the directors made a decision on May 14 to inform the FA that ATFC is unable to accept the promotion.

"We await the decision of the FA and the consequences as to the league in which ATFC will be allowed to play during 2018/19.

"We will announce the decision of the FA once we know this.

"The directors deeply regret the uncertainty to our players, our staff, our volunteers and our supporters created by this whole matter.

"Andover College/Sparsholt College are maintaining their sponsorship of the club, and at the same time, are ready to support ATFC with Football Academy players, many local to Andover, and will be working to support Andover Town Youth Football and their chairman, Simon Timms who is one of the directors of ATFC."