Seven Norfolk Alliance runners-up won’t be going up because of Fakenham’s relegation

Seven Norfolk Alliance clubs have had promotion snatched away from them following Fakenham's relegation from the East Anglian Premier League.

Teams which finished as runners-up in the Alliance had celebrated promotion when their season finished on August 28. But two weeks later Fakenham were relegated on the last day of the EAPL season, and to accommodate their return to the Alliance Premier Division, sides who finished second will now not go up.

The decision was made at a meeting hosted by the Norfolk Cricket Board earlier this week, with representatives present from the Alliance and its two feeder leagues – the Norfolk League and the West Norfolk league.

The six runners-up affected are Stow, Saxlingham, Horsford A, Sprowston A, Hethersett & Tas Valley A and Mattishall A. It was also decided that Norfolk League winners Winterton would be placed in Alliance Division Five, meaning that Division Six winners Swardeston-CEYMS are the seventh side to be denied promotion.

Saxlingham skipper Neil Forsdick described the decision as a 'kick in the teeth' for the clubs involved.

He added: 'I understand Fakenham have to come down and I don't believe the Alliance had much choice, but that doesn't make it right. When you have clubs being penalised like this it does make you question your incentives for playing cricket every Saturday. It is crazy.

'What annoys me even more is that the Alliance knew that this could happen. It makes you feel sick to the pit of your stomach because Saxlingham are not a big club with big resources, but we have all pulled together and I'm sure the other clubs feel the same.'

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Forsdick called on the Alliance to clarify the situation for future seasons in the event of more Norfolk sides getting relegated from the EAPL: 'It would be completely unfair to run the same process next year,' he said. 'We could finish second again next year and not get promoted. I firmly believe they should clearly say 'this is the process if another club gets relegated from the EAPL', even if it means reversing it so that three sides are relegated.'

Alliance chairman John Tythcott said: 'It was a very difficult decision, but the precedent had already been set as far as the Alliance is concerned and it had to happen. Fakenham's relegation was a worst case scenario for us.

'I do have great sympathy with the clubs who have missed out on promotion, but with the mechanics of the feeder system there is little else we could do. The alternative was to relegate an extra team in each division and that is not something we wanted to consider.'

The two teams finishing bottom of Alliance Division Six – Mundford A and Thetford A – have been relegated and will rejoin the West Norfolk League. Both clubs will be consulted by the league about which division they should be placed in and a decision on the make up of the league will be made at the AGM next month.

The Norfolk League have no teams dropping down from the Alliance to replace Winterton and they are set to relegate one team and promote two in each division. However a proposal to relegate two teams and promote three will be considered at the AGM next month.