The EVO-STIK League Southern was chosen on Thursday to manage and run the new Step 3 division which is being created for the start of the 2018-19 season. This follows a long-awaited review of Steps 3 and 4 of the National League System to iron out geographical anomalies, cut down on travelling costs and time for fans, players and officials and encourage more Step 5 clubs to climb the pyramid.
Announced in Sunday’s Non-League Paper before a press embargo was lifted on Monday, the first major restructuring of the game since 2004 will also see the creation of a new Step 4 division which will be run by the Isthmian League.
In total, the 276 clubs currently playing in Steps 1 to 4 will increase by 20 to 296 when the two new divisions kick-off in August 2018. Across the board, the reshuffle will see the three current Step 3 divisions of 24 clubs increase to four divisions of 22 clubs while the six Step 4 divisions currently run by the Northern Premier League, Isthmian League and Southern League will rise from 136 clubs playing in six divisions to seven 20 club divisions.
To achieve its aim, the FA also confirmed that only the bottom clubs in the current Step 3 divisions will be relegated at the end of season 2017-2018. In addition, only the clubs finishing last in the six divisions currently operating at Step 4 will be relegated next season with 26 clubs coming up from Step 5.
EVO-STIK League Southern chairman Terry Barratt said: "We are are delighted. This is great news after a great deal of hard work by the league and we are now looking forward to catering to thousands of more fans from 2018-19 after beating off stiff competition from a number of other leagues who'd declared an interest in running the new divisions."
Image courtesy of TheFA.com
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