Leagues allocated for county’s smaller teams

Abingdon United secured promotion to the Hellenic Premier League in the dying minutes of the season

Non-league teams in Oxfordshire have been allocated their divisions for the 2017/18 season.

The FA met on Thursday last week to discuss the league allocations for the new season.

Hellenic Premier League champions Thame United, under the stewardship of Mark West, will join Southern League Division One Central but, somewhat controversially, Kidlington will not.

The Greens, who enjoyed a mid-table finish in their first ever appearance at step 4 of the non-league structure, have questioned the decision to switch them into Division 1 South & West next season.

The Yarnton Road side thought they would stay in Division 1 Central but Portsmouth-based Moneyfields, promoted from the Wessex League, were placed in the Central division instead.

This means Kiddy will join Didcot Town and North Leigh in Division 1 South & West.

Wantage Town, relegated from that division last campaign, will join Ardley United and Abingdon United in the Hellenic Premier League.

There were no other moves for Oxfordshire’s other top non-league sides, with Oxford City remaining in National League South and Banbury United remaining in the Southern Premier League.

The FA has also announced the biggest shake-up to the structure of the grassroots game in more than a decade.

Two new divisions at steps 3 (organised by EVO-STIK League Southern) and 4 (Isthmian League) will be introduced from August 2018 following a review of the national league system.

The restructure aims 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.

In total, the 276 clubs currently playing in steps 1 to 4 will increase by 20 to 296.

Only the bottom clubs in the current step 3 and 4 divisions will be relegated at the end of season 2017-18. This could impact Didcot Town, Kidlington, North Leigh, Thame United and Banbury United.

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