The EBAC Northern League has failed in an attempt to gain higher status within the National League system and reduce travelling cost for its clubs and supporters.

The long-running saga about the Northern League’s role within the system – which has been going on now for nearly 40 years – seems to have taken another twist with the FA turning down a proposal that the Northern League could become a Step 4 league, feeding into the EvoStik Premier Division, with the league also having divisions at Step 5 and Step 6 “to ensure that there was an effective structure put in place for the north of England.”

The league also stated that the proposal is the “best way forward for non-league football at steps 4 to 6 in the North of England as well as for the long term benefit of our league and its clubs,” in terms of reducing travel costs and improving spectator interest.

However, the FA Leagues Committee has turned the proposal down flat, just as it did with a similar proposal from the league thirty years ago, and instead it has given the green light for the Isthmian and Southern Leagues to run extra divisions. Many Northern League followers feel that it has fallen victim once again to football politics.

The League is now faced with the strong possibility that the champions will now be automatically promoted against their wishes in some cases, and each division will be reduced to 20 clubs, which could see the departures of clubs on the edges of the league’s geographical area, such as Penrith and Northallerton, being switched to other leagues.

The Northern League has, throughout the long years of debate, complained about the amount of extra travel and associated costs that moving up the system incurs, and has on many occasions asked the FA to address the issue. It is annoyed that the FA now appears to have agreed to a similar request from the Southern and Isthmian Leagues, and turned its suggestion down.

Secretary Kevin Hewitt said; “It’s disappointing for this league and its clubs that there appears to be little or no desire on behalf of the FA’s Leagues Committee to address those very same issues for our region, with increased costs and excessive travel remaining the order of the day.”

All but two games in the Northern League were postponed because of the bad weather on Saturday.

North Shields beat Consett 5-2 to go just one point behind second placed Marske United, while Whitley Bay drew 2-2 with Guisborough. The Priorymen have had three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player, so they have dropped to fourth from bottom.

Bedlington have also had three deducted in the second division, so they have now dropped to just a point above the bottom three.