WORCESTER Raiders and Darlaston Town – the clubs beset by off-field uncertainty over a league title – are BOTH set to be promoted as the Football Association plans to break its own rule.

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The rivals finished as the top two in the West Midlands (Regional) League (WMRL) Division One with Raiders sent back to pole position after the season ended thanks to league officials awarding them the points from an abandoned game in March.

Raiders had led 3-1 at Bustleholme in the second minute of added time when a brawl broke out involving players and staff of both clubs and members of the crowd.

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The result was temporarily scrubbed and as it panned out, Raiders needed the points they had been on course to earn to top Darlo in the chase for the crown and what should have been the single promotion place.

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The FA’s Standard Code of Rules, which apply to and get administered by the WMRL, seemed to suggest neither team would get the points after an FA Disciplinary Commission had found charges proven against Raiders and Bustleholme.

However, WMRL’s management committee met on Monday and “unanimously” opted to warn both clubs as to their future conduct, allowing the result to stand.

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Darlaston followed that with a statement to say they would be “taking advice” and “considering all available options”.

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The potential for a wrangle might have hampered both clubs in their respective quests to complete the costly work of installing floodlights and possibly the sourcing of grant funding for those projects.

But the problem appears to have been solved via the back door with both appearing in next season’s provisional WMRL Premier Division line-up released by the FA this morning.

A statement released by Darlo this morning suggested the matter of the awarding of the points to Raiders may still not be closed.

It read: "Whilst there remains an ongoing issue yet to be resolved, the outcome will not affect the promotion of Worcester Raiders and ourselves.

"This should not distract from the achievements of ourselves and Worcester Raiders in what has been a magnificent 2018-19 season for both clubs in West Midlands (Regional) League Division One.

"In most other seasons the points tallies of both clubs would been enough to win the league and both deservedly promoted.

"Both teams finished well clear of their rivals and it is fitting that both clubs have been promoted. Both clubs can be proud of their achievements this season."

Clubs wishing to go up from this level – known as step seven of the National League System – had to apply by December 31 2018 with the highest-placed eligible finisher from the top five taking the only available place.

The rule leaves no room for ambiguity.

It reads: “Clubs finishing below fifth position will not be considered for promotion and only one club will be considered from each league.”

Other than the pre-planned exception of the South West Peninsula League, where mass movement up is being used to cut travel problems in a remote area of the country, WMRL One is the only step seven division to promote more than one club.

Whether that decision will now lead to rivals Droitwich Spa and Sikh Hunters, both of whom applied for promotion and finished in the top five but below Raiders and Darlo, questioning the call only time will tell, particularly with the WMRL Premier being reduced from 20 to 18 clubs. 

That has happened due to four of the region’s clubs getting shunted south to make up the numbers in the Hellenic League Division One West.

Malvern Town, Hereford Lads Club, Pegasus Juniors and Wellington all head off for a vastly-reduced league programme in a 14-team division that covers no fewer than five counties – Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.

The FA also notes in its allocations document that “discussions are ongoing with a view to increasing the membership of the two Hellenic League's step six divisions to 16 clubs”.

Whether Littleton, set to be transferred from the Midland Football League to the WMRL Premier as things stand, and Pershore Town, the club that made the same switch last summer, will also be dragged in to address the Hellenic's shortfall as two of the closest options remains to be seen.


West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division: (18 clubs) AFC Bridgnorth, Bewdley Town, Bilston Town Community, Black Country Rangers, Cradley Town, Darlaston Town (1874) – PROMOTED, Dudley Sports, Dudley Town, Littleton – TRANSFERRED, Pershore Town, Shawbury United, Shifnal Town – REPRIEVED FROM RELEGATION, Smethwick Rangers, Wednesfield, Wem Town, Wolverhampton Casuals, Wolverhampton Sporting Community – RELEGATED, Worcester Raiders – PROMOTED.

Hellenic Football League Division One (West): (14 clubs) Cheltenham Saracens, Cirencester Town Development, Clanfield 85, Hereford Lads Club – TRANSFERRED, Kidlington Development, Malmesbury Victoria, Malvern Town – TRANSFERRED, New College Swindon, Newent Town, Pegasus Juniors – REPRIEVED FROM RELEGATION AND TRANSFERRED, Shortwood United – RELEGATED, Thornbury Town, Tytherington Rocks, Wellington – TRANSFERRED.