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Needham Market placed in National League North following promotion but not looking to appeal while Stowmarket Town’s relegation confirmed





After confirmation came through they have been placed in Vanarama National League North, Needham Market chairman Keith Nunn has said they will not be looking to appeal what was an ‘expected’ decision.

The Football Association (FA) released its National League System (Steps 1-6) allocations this afternoon for the 2024/25 season which also revealed which clubs have been given relegation reprieves.

Stowmarket Town were not one of them – despite New Salamis joining East Thurrock United in folding from the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division – meaning the Old Gold & Blacks, who did not win a game as they finished bottom after a financial reset, will be in the Step 5 Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.

Kevin Horlock’s Needham Market side have been placed in Vanarama National League North following promotion Picture: Mark Westley
Kevin Horlock’s Needham Market side have been placed in Vanarama National League North following promotion Picture: Mark Westley

There was a reprieve for Needham Market Under-23s at Step 6 in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North, however, having finished bottom of the table, but staying up after a points-per-game formula.

All clubs who finished second or third from bottom at Step 6 – which included Haverhill Borough – were automatically reprieved.

Needham Market had been left waiting to hear if they would feed into the North of South of the Step 2 National League divisions following a historic promotion for Kevin Horlock’s side as champions of the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central.

Stowmarket Town – who did not win a game in their league campaign – have had their relegation to Step 5 confirmed Picture: Mark Westley
Stowmarket Town – who did not win a game in their league campaign – have had their relegation to Step 5 confirmed Picture: Mark Westley

And they had it confirmed today that they are facing up to some eye-watering long trips as part of a 24-team North Division that includes South Shields (227 miles one-way / 4hrs 37mins), Darlington (244m / 4hrs) and Spennymoor Town (258m / 4hrs 21mins).

They are not the furthest south team though with Oxford City and Brackley Town also included in a division which also features Scunthorpe United, Chester, Hereford and East Anglian sides King’s Lynn Town and Peteborough Sports.

All the allocations announced are subject to appeals but Needham chairman Nunn has confirmed to SuffolkNews they will not be going through that process.

“It was totally as expected,” he said.

“The FA probably have an Excel spreadsheet and put all the post-codes of grounds in and come out with what they think is the best answer in total.

“It is what we expected, it’s not the better of the two options for us because the South would have been a lot better, but on the positive side it’s lots of new grounds to go to for our players and spectators so we’re looking forward to it.”

Of the possibility of an appeal, he said: “No, absolutely not. We learnt that lesson a long time ago, it’s never worth appealing any FA decision.

Newmarket Town will move up to the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division alongside Bury Town if they win their play-off final Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket Town will move up to the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division alongside Bury Town if they win their play-off final Picture: Mark Westley

“You usually have to pay to go to a tribunal, so no, we won’t be appealing.”

Asked to pick out a club he would be particularly looking forward to facing, he said: “There are several former Football League sides like Scunthorpe, so Scunthorpe would certainly be near the top.”

Haverhill Borough will remain a Step 6 club following a relegation reprieve being confirmed Picture: Mecha Morton
Haverhill Borough will remain a Step 6 club following a relegation reprieve being confirmed Picture: Mecha Morton

At Step 3, promoted Lowestoft Town have been placed in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central alongside AFC Sudbury and Leiston meaning they will replace Needham Market in a third Suffolk side in the division.

At Step 4, Newmarket Town – should they win tomorrow’s play-off final with Mulbarton Wanderers – would feed into the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division alongside Bury Town, Felixstowe & Walton United and Ipswich Wanderers.

Cambridge City have received a lateral transfer into the division along with Waltham Abbey to increase it by two teams to 22.

At Step 5, Halstead Town remain in the Essex Senior League Premier Division while Cornard United have been promoted into the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division along with Great Yarmouth Town in a 20-team division, taking in Stowmarket Town.

Stowmarket’s director of football Andonis Wolverson welcomed the news by posting on X: “This is what we needed at this stage.

“At Step 5 we can begin really moulding the spine of the next generation’s team.

“The pathway is open and we’re ready to get to work to take Stowmarket Town forward but do it sustainably.”

At Step 6, Lincolnshire side Pinchbeck United have been placed in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North following relegation from the United Counties League Premier Division North with Gorleston Reserves promoted into a 20-team division.