Valley Automatically Promoted
Rugby Town have been automatically promoted from the United Counties League as one of the best runners-up across the country.
Valley were preparing to play in an Inter-Step promotion play-off on Saturday after finishing runners-up to Coventry Sphinx in the UCL Premier Division South until the news filitered through on Wednesday evening from the FA that promotion was secured.
With three teams being demoted from the step above due to ground grading failures, Rugby were promoted as the third best runners-up across the 16 Step Five divisions.
Indeed, both the late draw against Wellingborough Town at Butlin Road on Saturday and the final game victory at Milton Keynes Irish were pivotal results in gaining the automatic promotion as without those points Rugby would have finished below Malvern Town of the Hellenic League on a points-per-game basis.
At Step Four, North Shields (who Rugby lost to last season in the FA Vase), Skelmersdale United and Lymington Town were demoted due to ground grading failings despite appealing the decision.
The three demotions meant that three of the Inter-Step play-offs did not need to take place with Carlton Town, Widnes and Bideford being reprieved of relegation and Bemerton Heath Harlequins, Badshot Lea and Rugby gaining automatic promotion.
Teams in all levels must meet the ground grading criteria for their particular level by 31st March or else risk relegation even if they do not finish in the relegation places.
Rugby have been absent from Step Four football since relegation from the Northern Premier League Division One South in 2017.