At that the start of the 2016/17 season, Prestwich Heys Reserves were placed in Division One, following the first team’s successful application to join the North West Counties League. They were advised that the two-step rule would mean it unlikely that their Reserve Team could be promoted into our Premier Division, Step 7, should they be in a position to do so.
At the recent League Meeting, that position was again reiterated, and reference was also made to our current League Rule 12B (iv) was outlined. Since that time it has become apparent that Prestwich Heys Reserves concluded their fixtures in a promotion position, in fact they finished as champions.
About two weeks ago, Prestwich Heys FC challenged this rule. At their request, the Manchester Football League sought to clarify the position with The FA. They have replied quoting the FA Rules/National League System Regulation Rule 7.2.
"Reserve teams including a team from a Club, which is not considered by the League's Committee, to be sufficiently separate from another Club or Club, will not be permitted to compete above Step 6, in the National League System. There must be a minimum of two Steps between the First Team and the Reserve Team. This does not apply at Step 6 and 7. No two teams from the same Club can play at the same Step. Reserve Teams currently at Step 5, can remain unless relegated. But they will not be permitted to be promoted back to Step 5."
Following this advice, the Management Committee also sought the validity of our current Rule 12B (iv), originally sanctioned by The FA, back in season 2011-12. The Manchester Football League received the following advice under Section 136 of the Sanction and Control of Competitions Regulations 2016-2017.
"Competitions receive sanction from The FA, or County FA’s to demonstrate that each Competition comprises of clubs that are affiliated to a County FA; that each set of Rules complies with FA requirements and that the Competition may benefit from the use of registered match officials, may play other affiliated clubs and benefit from other services offered by The FA and County FA’s. All affiliated Associations sanctioning Competitions and all Competitions shall observe the Rules and Regulations of The FA.
Any rule, regulation or practice of any such Association or Competition that is inconsistent with the Rules and Regulations of The FA shall be void and unenforceable. For further avoidance of doubt, the fact that a Competition has been sanctioned directly or indirectly by The FA, shall not render enforceable, any such rule, regulation or practice that would otherwise be void and unenforceable under the Rules of The FA."
In conclusion, as Prestwich Heys Reserves have now finished their fixtures within a promotion place,they will automatically qualify for promotion.
The Management Committee wishes to stress that they were unaware of the current Rules, and have during the season, acted in good faith and in accordance with the League Rules as they appear on the League website.
DIVISION ONE PLAY OFF
As a result, the following play off game in Division One will take place as follows;
Bolton County v Manchester Central/Atherton Town.
Wednesday 17th May 2017.
To be played at Bolton County FC.
Kick Off - 7:00pm
Match officials will be appointed in due course and these costs will be managed by the MFL.
The final fixtures on Saturday will determine whether Manchester Central or Atherton Town, will be engaged in this fixture.
In the event of the game being tied at the end of normal time, the taking of penalties will take place, in accordance with the Laws of the game.