Winsford United Football Club ask to be 'formally relegated' after FA force Midlands league move

Winsford United have asked to be “formally relegated” by the FA. Credit: Twitter: @WinsfordUnited

A football club have asked to be relegated after concerns surrounding the cost of away matches after it was forced to move into a different geographical league.

Winsford United asked to be “formally relegated” by the FA with "immediate effect" after the Football Association announced it would be moved into the Midland Football League next season.

It means the team and fans would need to travel of hundreds of miles in order to get to away matches.

After losing an appeal, alongside fellow Cheshire club Northwich Victoria, against the move the club says it now faces no choice but to petition for a move to the North West Counties Division One "in order to protect the existence" of the team.

Northwich says they have accepted the decision, and will “move forward in the next chapter” for the club.

In a statement, Winsford United said: "Over the past 24 hours the club has received the devastating news that our recent appeal against lateral movement on the football pyramid was rejected. 

“The FA have confirmed that should the club wish to remain at step 5 that we will be playing in the Midland League next year as per the recently publicised allocations.

"In an emergency meeting last night the club explored all options, but do not see a feasible way forward for the club to compete in the geographical area of the Midland League. 

“It’s therefore with great sadness and regret that we have today petitioned to be formally relegated to the NWC Division 1 with immediate effect in order to save our club.

"We hope they can assist us and accept this request. At this point we would like to thank all of those wonderful people who helped during the appeal, your support meant everything Winsford United FC. 

“As a club we have not reached this decision lightly, this is a decision that we feel is necessary in order to protect the existence of WUFC.

"We hope our fantastic supporters, volunteers, players and staff understand the reasons for this and stand by us."

Northwich Victoria's statement said: "Northwich Victoria FC can now confirm we have received notification from the FA that our recent appeal against the lateral movement to the Midland Football League has been rejected. 

“The Club are extremely disappointed to hear this outcome and now face a number of challenges in the next few days to prepare for the new season in the Midland Football League.

"We would like to place on record, our thanks to the FA and the appeals panel for hearing our case and the professional way in which it was conducted. We now accept this decision and move forward in the next chapter for Northwich Victoria.

"We would like to reach out now more than ever to the fans of the Club who, as always, have been fantastic in their support to this cause, to really get behind the Club in the upcoming season as we strive to be as successful as we can in building new friends and visiting new clubs within the Midland Football League."

North West Counties League chairman Paul Lawler said: "I have every sympathy with Northwich Victoria, Winsford United and Uttoxeter Town and share their disappointment in the rejection of the appeals.

"Of course other sides impacted are Congleton Town and Market Drayton Town, who although they did not appeal, are equally impacted by the lateral movements."

He added: "The fact that Winsford have asked for voluntary relegation to survive is understandable.

"I call on the FAs League Committee to work with us to resolve this issue. In my opinion, the regulations are threatening the future of Leagues as well as clubs and there needs to be recognition of the regional variations between Leagues.

"With 24 clubs in our Premier Division next season, we should be relegating more sides than a league with 18 teams.

"The NLS regulations were standardised to create fairness across the system, but is it fair that clubs finishing 17th and 18th in one League get relegated while sides in the same position in our League don’t?"

Want more on the issues affecting the North? Our podcast, From the North answers the questions that matter to our region.