Gate made to wait to learn their fate

Squires Gate chairman Stuart Hopwood.
Squires Gate chairman Stuart Hopwood.
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Squires Gate FC will have to wait until the weekend to discover whether their 10-year stay in the premier division of the North West Counties League is over.

The ongoing uncertainty over relegation is doing the Marton club, who finished second-bottom, few favours as they attempt to sign up players for next season.

Although first division champions Formby will not be promoted due to inadequate facilities, the NWC have confirmed that two teams will be promoted – Abbey Hey and West Didsbury and Chorlton, who finished second and third respectively.

However, Gate could still win a reprieve if plans to restructure the Evo-Stik League above them are approved at a meeting tomorrow.

If the proposal to expand Evo-Stik First Division North to 24 clubs gets the green light, then only bottom club Garforth would be relegated to the North West Counties.

In that case, Gate would be hopeful of avoiding the drop to maintain a 22-club premier division.

Chairman Stuart Hopwood told The Gazette: “We have our fingers crossed but it all comes down to a meeting we aren’t part of and which has nothing to do with our league.”

And there could be further twists yet, as Hopwood explained.

“There’s also the situation with Aldershot going into administration because we all remember what happened with Chester City.

“They dropped all the way to the division above us, so Aldershot dropping down could have a similar knock-on effect.”

If Gate do go down after 10 years at non-league’s fifth tier, Hopwood admits he would feel aggrieved at being replaced by a West Didsbury side who finished 11 points outside what would normally be the promotion places.

However, Gate themselves were promoted from third place in 2003.

But Hopwood remains quietly confident of good news on Saturday.