1874 NORTHWICH will play at a higher level next season after Formby, who had beaten them to a promotion place on goal difference, resigned from the North West Counties League.
The fans-run club, who finished third in Division One with the same points tally as the Squirrels behind champions Nelson, were offered a place in the Premier Division during a phone call from league secretary John Deal to chairman Paul Stockton on Saturday.
“We didn’t see it coming,” admitted Brian Edge, vice chairman at 1874 Northwich.
“Paul asked if I was sitting down when I answered the phone, so I immediately thought he was about to deliver bad news. I wasn’t expecting to hear what he said next.”
The league confirmed Formby’s situation in a statement.
But the Merseyside club, Division One champions in 2013, have yet to comment beyond a brief remark on one of their online social media accounts.
“We’re exhausting all our final options before we confirm anything 100 per cent,” it read.
“Expect a statement from us on Monday.”
Bacup and Rossendale Borough, who occupied the first relegation position in the Premier Division, have already been reprieved from the drop by the FA’s Leagues Committee following a reshuffle further up the non-league pyramid.
However league rules prevent a side finishing bottom of the table, in this case Wigan Robin Park, from benefitting in the same way.
As a result, 1874 Northwich will fill the vacancy made by Formby’s exit.
Stockton said: “The league secretary doesn’t call out of season just for a chat, so I knew it was something significant after he left a message asking me to ring him.
“I wasn’t prepared for what he did say, mind!
“We were an own goal away from being promoted on the final day of the season, so had gone as close as we possibly could without going up.
“It’s what [manager] Ian [Street] and the players had worked so hard from the start to achieve.”
He told the Guardian that the club’s board would meet shortly to discuss in detail how being promoted will impact on their preparation for next season.
An open meeting for supporters, scheduled before today’s news, takes place at Lostock Social Club on Tuesday from 8pm.
What do you think? How will the team fare in the Premier Division next season? Add a comment below.