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Harleston Town lodge appeal after Football Association relegates them from Thurlow Nunn League First Division North

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The Football Association has this morning announced that Harleston Town have been relegated over ground grading issues.

Having won the Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Premier Division title and Mummery Cup during 2017/18, Harleston were promoted up to Step 6 for the first time in their history.

And it proved to be another successful season for the club as they finished second to Swaffham Town in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North – scoring more than 100 goals in the process ­– as well as lifting the First Division Knockout Cup.

Football action from Harleston Town vs Diss Town FC - Harleston celebrate a goal..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (10641693)
Football action from Harleston Town vs Diss Town FC - Harleston celebrate a goal..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (10641693)

However, on the provisional list of allocations for teams at Steps 1-6, Harleston were not included, with the FA revealing a return to the Anglian Combination Premier League is their most likely destination "due to failure to achieve required ground grading".

Nevertheless, club secretary Craig Trudgill has confirmed that Harleston will appeal the decision, with the necessary ground work set to be concluded by the time the Thurlow Nunn League AGM takes place on June 15.

He said: "The club play on a council-owned pitch and these improvements were held up by council red tape through no fault of our own.

"The club have had to go through every council process imaginable, including public forums and numerous meetings which have taken over a year to get anywhere.

"As a club we knew we were taking a gamble in going up to the Thurlow Nunn League last season with the ground improvements required within the timescales, but the club felt it was a gamble worth taking.

"We have since received full planning permission from the council for all the required improvements and work began on these improvements as soon as permission was granted last week.

"The council have written a letter to the FA explaining the situation and we have appealed the FA's decision.

"The club cannot say any more that this at present except that we are doing everything we cant to this appeal. The club feel we have a strong case and would to thank Norfolk FA for gelping us and supporting us through this.

"Linda Ling and Frances Bickley of Harleston Town Council have also been brilliant. They have backed us all the way and we are thankful to them for all their efforts in getting everything approved, despite some opposition."

* For more on this news, see next week's Express print edition.

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