By James Grayson (Twitter - @jamesAgrayson)
Rainworth Miners Welfare have resigned from the Evo Stik Division One South and opted to return to the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.
The club, who were promoted to the NPL in 2010, have cited financial costs as the reason. However, the news exposes the unsustainability of teams who get promoted out of the NCEL and into the Northern Premier League.
Rainworth are the third club that have been promoted from the NCEL to the Evo Stik in the last seven years and then dropped out. Retford United reached the Evo Stik Premier Division before being relegated two divisions because they could not finance themselves in the NPL. Glapwell also made a similar decision and are now not even in the Football Pyramid.
Should the FA and NPL be more thorough with NCEL clubs that want promotion? The glaring thing with the promotions that Rainworth and Glapwell achieved is that they were promoted as runners-up because the champions turned down promotion because of the costs involved in the NPL, namely Bridlington Town and Winterton Rangers.
At the moment, the NPL have at least three clubs in their three divisions that are struggling to stay afloat. To have a club, who are not in relegation danger, resign is simply embarrassing for that level of football. It is not park football. The NPL is a serious level of football.
There needs to be a tougher stance of clubs coming out of the NCEL. Brighouse Town could get promotion this season. This is a club with a small support base. It has an average attendance of 106 for this season, which is just over 7% down from last season. Should they get up, extreme pressure will be applied to their finances.
There are at least ten games that would need coach transport at around £400 a time. It is not something Brighouse have to worry about in the NCEL. Players wages will increase because of the level of football and the extra burden of travelling. If I was running Brighouse and they won the league, I would turn down promotion. Brighouse Town in the NPL is not sustainable.
After Rainworth’s decision, the NPL need to ensure all their new clubs are sustainable or at least make sure they know the perils of promotion. There needs to be a strong and robust stance. Relegation should be decided on the pitch, not by a club realising that after three years they should not have chased the dream.