WORCESTER City will face no fewer than NINE new league opponents next season after the FA’s restructure of the National League System threw up a few surprises.

Many projections had City paired with teams to the south east of the Midlands for the 2021-22 season but the Midland Football League Premier Division has sucked in clubs as far north as Congleton Town in Cheshire – more than 80 miles away.

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As expected, heavyweights from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire such as Newark and Long Eaton United have been moved sideways but the task of getting the Claines Lane outfit back up the pyramid will get no easier with Congleton and Hanley Town among the big guns to head south from the North West Counties League.

Newark, Long Eaton United, Gresley, Heather St John’s and Selston have all been transferred to United Counties League Premier Division North, while Coventry United and Coventry Sphinx head off to Premier Division South.

Sporting Khalsa have been promoted out of City's level having had the best playing record over the past two incomplete seasons, meaning eight clubs will leave. A ninth gap has been created by it running one short in 2020-21 following the resignation of South Normanton Athletic.

Congleton and Hanley were in the top six of the division that was led by Warrington Rylands, Wembley finalists in this season's FA Vase.

“I think you have to keep things in perspective,” said City boss Tim Harris. 

“When I looked prior to the leagues coming out, we had been paired with clubs like Newark, Long Eaton and Selston which involved similar distances, if not farther.

“What you lose on one you gain on another and from my point of view, when you are used to travelling to places like Barrow or King’s Lynn on a Tuesday night it doesn’t make a lot of difference. 

“We are going to go to places we have never been to before and that will be an interesting exercise, we have to respect all opponents.

“There are some good clubs coming in, we have also lost some good clubs but we have to play them all and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Congleton and Hanley joined in the Midland Football League by Whitchurch Alport from north Shropshire.

The other six vacancies are filled with promoted clubs from three different leagues.

The most familiar is Bewdley Town, a regular pre-season opponent of City’s in recent years and a side managed by ex-Kidderminster Harriers gaffer Phil Mullen.

Bewdley are one of three coming up from the West Midlands (Regional) League with well-resourced Shifnal Town heading up alongside Wolverhampton Casuals.

Lichfield City and Uttoxeter Town step up from the Midland Football League Division One and another northern trip has been added to the agenda.

Stone Old Alleynians – the club that played its first FA Cup tie in its history against City in August 2019 – come in from North West Counties League Division One to complete the line-up. 

One of the more remarkable elements is that while City will complete round trips of more than 160 miles, they have not been paired with Malvern Town just 10 miles away. 

The Hillsiders have been promoted from Hellenic League Division One West but have been placed in the Premier Division of that same league with a footprint that takes in Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and areas of Bristol. 

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