Common optimistic over promotion dream

Action from Little Common's last home game, against St Francis Rangers, before Christmas. In the background is the netting Common put up each matchday as a temporary ground enclosure
Action from Little Common's last home game, against St Francis Rangers, before Christmas. In the background is the netting Common put up each matchday as a temporary ground enclosure

Little Common chairman Daniel Eldridge says he would like to think the football club would be awarded promotion should it finish the season in a promotion position.

The Commoners are top of Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One with 10 games remaining and on course to finish in one of the three promotion places to the Premier Division.

Common achieved a top three finish during the 2012/13 season (when the league was then called Sussex County League Division Two), but were denied promotion for ground grading reasons after an appeal to the FA was unsuccessful.

The main stumbling block then was ground enclosure. Common put up sheeting around two sides of their pitch for each home game to enclose their ground at Little Common Rec, but FA rules state that grounds must be enclosed by a permanent boundary rather than a temporary one.

With landowner Rother District Council having ruled out the possibility of a permanent enclosure as the ground is considered a public open space, enclosure remains the prime issue.

But Eldridge and the club are doing everything they can to come up with a solution in the hope that Common can fulfil their long-held ambition of playing in the Premier Division.

Eldridge said: “It’s not very clearcut at the moment. The last couple of months since I knew we were in with a chance of being in the top three, I’ve been involved in lots of discussions and meetings.

“We’ve got a few options which I really can’t really discuss all of at the moment. I’m still not 100 percent sure, but I would like to think we will be able to (play in the Premier Division next season if they finish in a promotion position).

“We’re trying to work with the league and the council, and the league have been trying to help out with the council as well. We’re trying to work together.”

A small group of league officials is due to visit Little Common Rec for the home fixture against Langney Wanderers on Saturday February 11.

“We’ll sit down with them and discuss what other options may be available,” continued Eldridge. “We’ll probably know a little bit more after that.

“The last couple of months have been quite busy trying to sort different things out and I did speak to the FA technical panel as well about their views on enclosure.

“We’ve worked hard over the last few years to improve what we have there. If we can’t ever progress there, that will be a bit of a shame.

“That doesn’t mean we will stop; we’ll try to continue to play as high as we can. If we have to look at other options, we will do because it’s beneficial for the town as well.

“I want to make sure one day I see us play in the Premier Division and that’s what Ken (Cherry, the late club founder and chairman) would’ve wanted as well.”

Common currently have attained Grade H in the FA National Ground Grading Document, which allows them to play in the national FA Vase competition.

Grade G, which Common haven’t yet attained due to the enclosure issue, is required for Division One and Grade F for the Premier Division.

Clubs seeking promotion to the Premier Division are generally given a year’s grace from the March 31 deadline to meet the Grade F requirements.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking 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!