The South West Peninsula League board on Thursday night (4th January) gave their backing to a proposal to re-structure the Step 7 Divisions in Devon & Cornwall.
A high level meeting last month was hosted by the FA and was attended by FA Officials, Senior members from Devon FA & Cornwall FA together with SWP League officers.
The meeting proposed that for the 2019/20 season the 2 existing Step 7’s of 18 clubs be changed to 3 Divisions each of a maximum of 16 clubs. (West, Central & East).
The proposal would both reduce travel for clubs and increase opportunities for additional movement and extra clubs to play in the national league system.
An additional 12 clubs will be necessary, and it is anticipated they will come from across the 6 feeder leagues. It is likely that the West division will be from Land’s End to approx. Liskeard, a new Central Division from approx. Liskeard to Newton Abbot which would put Plymouth in the centre of the league (currently its clubs are either extreme East or West) and the East Division from roughly Newton Abbot Eastwards.
It is further hoped that in the next 18 months Cornwall will use this re-structure to aid the pyramid in the County which was viewed as having too many clubs in one league and too many reserve teams in the other league. In Devon it would allow ambitious clubs from across the whole County to have the opportunity to step up.
The new set up will provide 3 Champion clubs rather than the current 2, extending possible promotion. The SWP Premier would remain unchanged and provide a promotion route direct to Step 5, though at the bottom end it is possible that the bottom 3 rather than bottom 2 would be relegated each season.
The FA have indicated that they would like to hold two meetings, probably in April, one each in Devon & Cornwall, to invite clubs playing in the six feeder leagues to attend and explore further with a view that next season, 2018/19, clubs would know what they would have to do on and off the pitch to qualify for the new set up to commence in the 2019/20 season.
At last night’s meeting, the SWP board agreed to support the proposal and start preparation work to assist with the arrangement of meetings with clubs in the spring.