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Aylesbury accept relegation following ground grading changes

Defiant Aylesbury have vowed to one day return to Step 4 after unavoidably accepting relegation due to ground grading requirements.

The Southern League Division One Central club is unable to meet new standards being enforced from next season.

The FA alerted clubs at Step 3 and 4 in October that changing rooms are now required to be a minimum of 18 square metres and six square metres for changing areas for match officials by March 31, 2019.

The FA originally issued the notice about the changes in 2014 although had delayed enforcing them.

If the standards are not met, then the club will not be eligible for promotion or participation in the play-offs at the completion of the 2018-19 season and will be relegated to Step 5.

Clubs have until the end of July to comply providing they can supply written confirmation the works will be completed by that date, achieved planning permission and have proof of funding.

Should a club provide the relevant documents but then fail to complete the necessary improvements, then their ground will be closed and the club will have to find an alternate, fully compliant ground for the 2019-20 season. Failure to complete the works by March 31, 2020, will then see the club relegated to Step 5.

Aylesbury announced last week their home and away changing rooms are very close to the minimums needed, but the officials’ room was considerably undersized and therefore they have accepted relegation.

“We’re a small committee and we focus on things that have to and must be done,” Aylesbury’s communication’s manager Mike Farquharson told The NLP. “Our changing room building is on stilts because it’s on a flood plain. The area that we have is the area we have. The only way of doing it is to reconfigure the inside.

“Having spoken to three or four contractors the situation was we couldn’t get guarantees in place by the end of March. Obviously there’s cost issues as well, but fundamentally we don’t have the time.

“It’s devastating for all the people within the club. We’ve spent ten years in the Southern League and haven’t had any complaints about the size of dressing rooms from anyone so it seems a little harsh.

“We’ve accepted what is going to happen and we’re planning for a time in the Spartan League.

“We’re not criticising The FA. They’ve implemented these changes, we can’t meet them, that’s what they’re entitled to do.

“Twenty years ago we were a park team. We’ve come a long way. The club is not dead, we’ll continue.

“Maybe we’ll enjoy the football a bit more at that level. We’ll have a couple of good seasons trying to get ourselves back at having another tilt at being
promoted.”

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