Hastings United chairman Dave Nessling says the new division the football club will play in next season is likely to cost it around £10,000 in reduced matchday income.
Hastings will line up in the new Isthmian (Bostik) League South East, which will contain 20 teams as opposed to 24 in Division One South during the 2017/18 campaign, meaning there will be eight fewer matches (38 instead of 46) and four less home games.
Nessling said: “Obviously there’s going to be reduced income because we’ll have four less home matches in the league. Potentially we reckon with gate revenue and secondary spend that goes on, maybe as much as £10,000 over the four games in income.
“I’m a firm believer that the division should be 22 (clubs). I think 24 is too many and 20 is not enough at our level when we’re used to midweek travelling. Twenty-two has been proved right over all the years in most divisions.”
The provisional club allocations for steps 1-4 of the National League System for 2018/19 were announced following last Thursday’s meeting of The FA’s Leagues Committee.
Hastings faced 15 of the 19 other clubs last season. The remaining four - Haywards Heath Town, Sevenoaks Town, Three Bridges and Whitstable Town - have come up from step five.
Hastings will not play Chipstead, Molesey or South Park next term as those three clubs are in Isthmian League - South Central.
Four clubs were promoted from the 2017/18 Division One South. Carshalton Athletic and Lewes went up automatically as the top two, Walton Casuals as play-off winners and play-off runners-up Corinthian-Casuals were promoted as the best losing step four play-off finalist on a points per game basis.
All allocations are subject to FA appeal within seven days.
“We will probably have very little midweek football because there’s 38 Saturdays in the season and I would imagine most of our fixtures are going to be on a Saturday,” continued Nessling. “The travelling I don’t think there’s a lot of difference to what there was last year.
“My biggest fear out of all of this is they’re bringing too many clubs into the semi-pro game that can ill-afford to be there - they get to that level and then find it a real struggle.
“Step five (one level below Hastings) is being eroded because the better clubs are going to step four and then they’re struggling at step four. There’s been quite a yo-yo effect.”
Hastings plan to offset the reduction in matchday income by increasing their commercial activity.
Provisional Isthmian League South East line-up 2018/19: Ashford United, Cray Wanderers, East Grinstead Town, Faversham Town, Greenwich Borough, Guernsey, HASTINGS UNITED, Haywards Heath Town, Herne Bay, Horsham, Hythe Town, Phoenix Sports, Ramsgate, Sevenoaks Town, Sittingbourne, Thamesmead Town, Three Bridges, VCD Athletic, Whitstable Town, Whyteleafe.
The fixtures for next season will be released some time in mid-July and the big kick-off will be on Saturday August 11.
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