HUNGERFORD TOWN today submit their formal appeal against the Vanarama National League’s decision to refuse the club entry to the end of season promotion-play-offs over the provision of 140 seats.
Although the club has the seats ready to go in, the race to meet the basic ground grading requirements to remain in the competition did not need those. But despite obtaining the necessary B grading to play in National League South, the league now requires the additional seats to the higher division’s standards to face current opponents in the play-offs.
It is a ruling that has stunned Hungerford and said chairman Nigel Warrick: “We got promoted to this league and spent the time working to reach the ground grading. We raised the money, we did everything we had to do to be compliant but now we find ourselves with another mountain to climb.
“We’ve got the infrastructure to do the seats and we can put those in. It costs £12,000 and we have got the money, but would that make us compliant? We don’t know.
“We will appeal and hope that will be understood by the league. They did say the rules are going to change next season, so why not now if they know they are wrong?
“It’s all unilateral and puts us in a very difficult position and that’s not great for our manager and our players who have achieved so much.”
Manager Bobby Wilkinson admitted that the news had come has a major blow after the pre-season relegation favourites had confounded pundits by playing a major part in the promotion race, which has two games to go before the play-offs.
“I’m lost for words really,” he said. “We don’t know where we are with all this this and I hope the FA realises that this is peoples’ futures at stake.
“We’ve all worked so hard to get where we are and yes, none of us thought we would be here. But here we are, and these opportunities may only come once in a lifetime.
“We just have to keep our fingers crossed, and hope and pray that it gets turned around.”
Hungerford have to shake off the shadow to return to league action on Saturday at Wealdstone, whose ‘dead’ season has been brought back to life by the prospect of replacing Hungerford or similarly affected Poole Town in the play-offs if they can move up one place in the table to seventh.
Wilkinson hopes to have midfielders Luke Williams and Ian Herring back on duty after injury ruled out both from Monday’s 2-0 defeat at Hemel Hempstead.