MARK Harris admits the prospect of Witton Albion having to prevail in an extra game to be promoted if they win the play-offs is imperfect.

However he hopes it is an obstacle only in the short-term.

From next season, a side that wins the Northern Premier League’s Premier Division play-offs will not be guaranteed a place in the National League North as they have previously.

Instead they must triumph in another one-off game to go up.

“It’s not great and we acknowledge that,” said Harris, who remains league chairman after resigning from the same role at Wincham Park at the end of last term.

“The situation has come about as a result of the National League, for now at least, declining to relegate additional clubs.

“So we’re stuck with it for at least one year.”

However he told the Guardian officials from both competitions will meet to discuss the issue.

A negotiated solution is preferable to one imposed by the Football Association, which is within its power, according to Harris.

“The National League should be applauded for realising we can’t have a situation where two teams that have won their league’s play-offs don’t move up to the next level,” he added.

“We’d rather co-operate with them to reach a compromise that works for everybody.”

A restructure this summer of the semi-professional ranks, known as the National League System (NLS), has led to an extra division being created at step three – the level Witton play at.

It means Albion will play fewer fixtures – down four from 46 to 42 – and not have to travel as far.

Northwich Guardian:

The National League System (NLS) will incoporate a new division at both steps three and four for the 2018-2019 season

Three teams will still be relegated from each of the National League’s two regional divisions, creating six vacancies.

The champions from each of the now four feeder divisions will be rewarded with promotion, leaving two places up for grabs.

Those teams that finish between second and fifth in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight will still contest play-offs – a semi-finals stage followed by a final – as is custom.

However the successful side will then join three others for a so-called ‘Super’ play-off round; two separate ties decided on by the FA’s Leagues Committee.

Those matches will be a one-off, and hosted by the club with the best points-per-game ratio during the season.

Harris agrees it would be easier if the English Football League and the National League agreed on a ‘three-up, three down’ arrangement.

Indeed latter has lobbied repeatedly for that in recent years, albeit without success.

“While that would make things simpler, the Northern Premier League can’t wait around for it to happen,” he said.

“We’d rather engage [with the National League] now.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the game’s governing body reiterated its commitment to create a ‘perfect model’, from steps one to five of the NLS, in time for the 2020-2021 campaign.

“We’d like a symmetrical pyramid in place by then,” Laurence Jones, head of the NLS, told the Non-League Paper.

“The restructure isn’t finished, and this is the start of a two-year journey.

“It’s always a challenge when you make changes but we want to have automatic promotion and relegation, as well as play-offs, throughout.

“That’s part of an ongoing piece of work where, in time, we will create the required number of movements between the respective steps to make it work properly.

“There is a real commitment to resolve the issues quickly, but sometimes the route to where we want to get to isn’t straightforward.”