Histon FC can now confirm that our appeal was heard by the FA Appeal Board on Monday 21st June but was unsuccessful.
We therefore now look forward to competing in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division.
The Appeal Board’s decision did not come as a surprise, although we were given a good opportunity to make our points, and did make our points in an effective way. We went into the appeal process knowing that a positive outcome was unlikely, but we wanted the opportunity to explain to the FA the impact this move would have on our club, and to try to get clarity for the future in order to allow us to make some kind of strategic plan to keep our club moving forward both on and off the pitch. In response, it has now been made clear to us that, because of our geographical position, we could potentially have the disruption of being moved between leagues every season from now on.
Our presentation to the Appeal Board focussed on the additional travel mileage and times we will now experience, with fewer localised fixtures and therefore fewer opportunities for generating income – all the opposite of the FA’s overall objectives for the pyramid restructuring. We pointed out that the practical implications relate not just to the additional travel, but to where our new opponents are situated – away from our connections in East Anglia, and away from the home and work locations of our players. Our first team football focus moves from the south and east of Cambridge to the north and west.
We explained to the Appeal Board our fears about additional costs, loss of players, recruitment difficulties, weakened squads, reduction in away support, and impact on our sponsors, volunteers, and youth structure. We argued for financial compensation if we could not remain in the Isthmian League. The Appeal Board however explained that it has no powers in relation to compensation and concluded that our reallocation was not “a decision which no reasonable body could have come to”.
Now we must move on.
The move into the Northern Premier League Midlands Division really will have a significant negative impact on our costs, and has already resulted in the loss of a number of senior players from our playing squad. We will of course face these problems head on, and the Board remains 100% committed to ensuring that the club continues on a solid financial footing. We are working hard to bring new sponsors to the club and are involved in a number of negotiations over deals with various potential suppliers to try to mitigate the financial impact as much as possible. There will inevitably have to be some savings made somewhere however and to that end we are currently reviewing all areas of club operations and will take any actions necessary where and when appropriate.
On the pitch, Lance and his coaching team committed their future to the club some time ago, fully in the knowledge that this lateral move could be in the pipeline, and for that we are grateful. Although he has seen a number of his squad leave the club they do so with his and our understanding that the huge increase in travel times for those affected is just too much for them to be able to deal with, and we will make a full squad announcement in the near future. Our thanks go to them all.
Meanwhile, recruitment plans move on with renewed vigour and news of signings will be announced in the usual way once confirmed.
This appeal was not about the club not wanting to be in the NPL, it was about the disregard the FA has shown to clubs like ours who have been ignored whilst the FA announce the wide-ranging benefits for other clubs at the expense of those in a similar position to us. We wanted to make our point and have now done so.
However, we are where we are and must now draw a line under the matter. We look forward to getting back to playing the game we all love, making new friends and visiting clubs we’ve never visited before whilst welcoming new clubs to The Bridge. We remain optimistic and excited for the future and look forward to seeing you all back at The Bridge soon.
We thank all of you who have shown us so much support during this process, it is good to know that you are behind us.
Come on you Stutes!
Histon FC Board.