Sidlesham have vowed to bounce back from the ‘kick in the teeth’ of being relegated to the bottom tier of the Southern Combination League.
The Sids have been cast into division two for 2016-17 despite finishing 11th in the 18-team first division last term.
I’m delighted with the new management team and I think there will be a good feel about the place.Gary Jefkins
The reason is their floodlights don’t work – although there will be other clubs without lights in division one next season.
Sids have accepted their lot and now hope for a season when they can do what they need to do on the pitch and off it. New people have been attracted to the club and that includes a strong-looking management team backing up manager Gary Jefkins.
He will be helped by assistant manager Andy Bell, player-coach Daren Pearce and assistant coach Malcolm Harwood. All three have considerable county-league experience.
Sids were devastated when they were relegated by SCFL officials after the end of last season because of their ground grading.
Jefkins said: “It was a kick in the teeth. We’d been told in December parts of the ground didn’t match the grading needed for division one (step six).
“The main problem is floodlights. We’ve got the columns but they need rewiring and that will cost £15,000-£20,000. We didn’t think it would get us relegated because we finished 11th out of 18 after winning nine of our final 14 games, and clubs like Midhurst and Langney haven’t got lights and are allowed to stay up.
“It came down to the league needing to relegate one team to keep numbers even and it was us because we’d come up the previous year. So had Langney but they finished above us.
“We have to get on with it now and we had a meeting last week where we’ve got some new people coming into the club to move it forward.
“I’m delighted with the new management team and I think there will be a good feel about the place.
“The club are looking to get grants to help sort out the floodlights and on the pitch we will be going all out for promotion.
“Ideally we want to earn promotion and not have any issue that can stop the league allowing us to take our place in division one.”
The club are hopeful most of last season’s squad, who reached the semi-finals of the Division Two Cup as well as ending positively in the league, will return.
Friendlies have been lined up away to Fleetlands (Jul 16), away to Selsey (Jul 23), home to Midhurst (Jul 30) and home to Lavant (Aug 6).
A six-a-side tournament will be held at their Selsey Road Rec HQ on Saturday, July 2. Interested teams should ring Gary Jefkins on 07540 334414.
The SCFL confirmed Sids were demoted because of ground-grading issues and stressed the rules were set by the FA that local leagues had to follow.
League chairman Steve Nealgrove said when a club were promoted from step seven to six (SCFL division two to one), they were given until the following March to achieve a ‘G’ ground grading, which included floodlights.
Nealgrove said the need to have 18 teams in their first division to keep it at national step-six level meant there were clubs without lights in the 2016-17 division-one line-up – though there would have to be a vote at the league’s annual meeting on June 28 on this issue.
He admitted it was tough for clubs to meet rules but that was the only way they could ensure being allowed to stay in their rightful division.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!