Wootton Bassett Town director of football Chris Jones has spoken of his frustration at the Football Association’s decision to reject the club’s appeal against demotion from the Hellenic League Premier Division.
Despite having finished comfortably clear of the relegation zone last season, the Rylands Way club were demoted to Division One West after their ground failed to meet the required regulations.
Hellenic League rules state that clubs in the Premier Division must have grounds with 100 seating and standing covered, and Bassett were given a March 31 deadline to meet those requirements.
While the club made the necessary improvements, they were not completed until four weeks after the date set and consequently they were informed that they would be relegated while Fairford Town, who finished second bottom of the standings, instead retained their Premier Division status.
Jones was disappointed that the fact there was never any doubt that the ground would be brought up to scratch well before the start of the new season was not taken into account.
“We always knew it had to be done by March 31 but what we were trying to do was to try and prolong that deadline based upon the fact we were in negotiations for relocation,” he said.
“Really what we were asking for was a four-week delay and that is what disappoints us. The work has been done, it is there for people to look at, and was completed on April 30.
“The League’s argument would be that they told us at the beginning of the season that it had to be done by March 31 but there were mitigating circumstances and we were trying to say that the work would always be done.
“We felt nobody had actually viewed our ground and the progress with the work that was actually made, but having said that the decision is final and we have no other way to go.
“The club is massively disappointed. It was particularly frustrating that the relevant ground improvement was completed by the end of April, which was really only four weeks later than the deadline set.”
Bassett Town boss Dave Turner returns from holiday today and Jones will sit down with him this week to discuss how the club now moves forward.
“We have worked hard over the last three or four years to play at the level we feel Wootton Bassett should playing at,” he added.
“I have to deal with the fact we have been demoted and we will be playing Division One football next season.
“The first thing is to get the commitment from the management and players and see exactly where we will be and that meeting will be held later this week.”