BLACKPOOL Mechanics FC and West Lancashire League club Lytham St Annes have joined forces in a surprise move.
And the merger means that former Squires Gate boss Gordon Fell is back in the North-West Counties League managing the combined club, which will continue under the Mechanics banner at Common Edge.
Fell, 54, had been in charge of LSA since midway through last season and takes over in the wake of Stuart Parker switching to Gate.
LSA have resigned from the WLL, where a points readjustment caused by Carnforth Rangers folding meant they were division one champions ahead of Blackpool Rovers.
Their chairman/secretary Geoff Mackay becomes football chairman, while Blackpool businessman Tommy Baldwin remains chairman. Respective vice-chairmen John Sanderson and Kevin Looby are part of the team and members of both groups team up to create a new committee. Billy Singleton carries on as secretary.
LSA had played at the YMCA in Mythop Road for a season and Mackay said the goal had been to develop the ground and climb the soccer pyramid.
"We needed a greater degree of ownership since grants are now much more difficult to obtain and for YMCA to have developed the site themselves would have been at the expense of many of their other activities," he said.
"The pitch needed a considerable amount of repair work and the Football Federation said that this counts as maintenance and doesn't qualify for grant aid. Therefore LSA continuing there was questionable.
"It's sad our name is disappearing but we will be playing in South Fylde and Mechs are already at the level to which LSA aspired."
Fell, who quit Gate in October 2003 after five years, said: "We couldn't go any further at LSA because of the pitch and it made sense going to Mechs. I had told them I didn't want to rush into it while LSA were in for promotion.
"A club needs a good pitch to be successful. Lads I've had at LSA now have the chance to express themselves in the NWCL."
Baldwin said he was delighted the two clubs had got together because Mechs needed a change of direction.
Mechanics' name has been kept because of a tremendous amount of goodwill towards the club.
"Our players will join up with those of LSA who want to try their luck at a higher level, though quite a number have already played at it. We're particularly pleased Gordon has filled the managerial vacancy.
"LSA, who have excellent fundraising capabilities, have already covered extensive renovations to our pitch, which had been overused. With care and careful management, we hope it will soon be back to what it was."