Lines realistic over United’s appeal to reverse decision

All set for the new season at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium but in which division will the Puritans be playing?
All set for the new season at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium but in which division will the Puritans be playing?

Chairman Phil Lines admits it is going to be a difficult task to overturn the FA’s decision to place Banbury United in a different division next season.

The Puritans have been moved into the Southern League Central Division but the club will appeal that decision this week.

It’s turned everything upside down and now there is so much uncertainty

Banbury United chairman Phil Lines

Last month, the Puritans were informed they would be in the Southern Division next season, which was more or less the make-up of the division they had been in for the last two campaigns.

But, following Shaw Lane’s withdrawal from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, the FA have made changes.

Hednesford Town will take the place of Shaw Lane with United replacing the Staffordshire club in the Central Division. That presents the club with a dilemma as manager Mike Ford has already signed several players who thought the Puritans would be playing in the Southern Division.

Lines said: “As we’re on the border, we’re always going to be vulnerable when this happens. We’re the furthest team north in the Southern Division and I suppose that’s why they’ve moved us.

“We appreciate that it was always going to be difficult setting this up for the first time but this has put a spanner in the works. We’ve had talks with Hednesford Town because they are up in arms about it too.

“If all the clubs which are affected by this decision appeal then we will have a stronger case and make it more difficult for the FA. We hope that if that was the case they would simply promote another team in the north to take Shaw Lane’s place.

“Our appeal will be based on the fact that Mike Ford has signed several southern-based players who were under the impression they would be playing in the Southern Division.

“All of our close season dealings have been based on the idea that we were going to be playing in the Southern Division and we’ve put a lot of work into this during the last few weeks.

“It’s turned everything upside down and now there is so much uncertainty.

“We need to know as soon as possible so we hope the FA respect our situation and make a quick decision on it.”

Whatever division United are in next season, the supporters will now be able to watch the action protected from the elements at both ends of the ground.

A new structure – sponsored by Puritans Radio – to cover the Sutton End terrace of the ground is being erected this week .

n Ford faces up to the challenge, see page 54