Football Association announce new divisional structure in South West

The new league will run five divisions, two at Step five and still three at Step six. 

The new league will run five divisions, two at Step five and still three at Step six. - Credit: Simon Horn

The Football Association have announced the South West Peninsula League and Toolstation Western League are able to progress into a new divisional structure in the South West for season 2023-24.

The progression of clubs from Devon and Cornwall into step five aligned with the restructure of the National League System, meant the extremity of the league expanded to see journeys from Cornwall to Bristol.

Following a representation from the Leagues on behalf of clubs, the FA Leagues Committee agreed to consider a series of proposals, with the final proposal undergoing consultation with key stakeholders.

Taking all this into account the committee accepted the proposal and the new league will be a merger of the existing Western and Peninsula Leagues, who between them currently run four divisions, one at step five and three at step six.

The new league will run five divisions, two at step five, designed to reduce travel and costs, and three at step six. 

The sizes of the current four divisions vary between 22 and 17 clubs and the new structure will see divisions of up to 18 clubs in each.

Toolstation Western League chairman John Pool said: ‘’It has been the aim from its concept to open up the opportunities for all clubs in the South West to fulfil their aspirations to be able to compete in the National League System.

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"The proposals being carried forward to improve the opportunities for clubs has been endorsed by County FAs and relevant Leagues, which is much appreciated by all concerned. The pathway to the future will allow clubs at all levels to be able to view the new league structure with optimism."

Phil Hiscox, Secretary of the South West Peninsula League, added: "The South West is a unique region with challenges for clubs travelling in terms of time and distance, and more than ever costs as well. 

"The new set-up will allow the previously disadvantaged clubs a pathway through the National League System which will be both achievable and affordable whilst maintaining a high level of football for those clubs."

Mark Frost, Chair of the FA Leagues Committee, said: "It is important that as the pyramid evolves, we consider the feedback of clubs and Leagues. 

"This issue was raised in a proactive manner by the Leagues and we're delighted we are able to find a solution, while protecting the integrity of fluid promotion and relegation that the pyramid restructure has now enabled."

The two leagues will now meet to work through an action plan to put in place many of the systems and procedures to enable the merged league to be formed and will update the FA leagues Committee, the two current leagues boards and the member clubs moving forward.

With the 2022-23 season about to start, it is important clear guidance is given to clubs so they can have an objective view as to what they will need to do, on and off the pitch, to achieve any “upward movement”.