Town saved from the drop

LUCKY Hucknall Town have been reinstated to the Blue Square North after being handed an astonishing relegation reprieve at the 11th-hour.

After suffering the drop to the Unibond League, Town originally eyed a reprieve when Boston United hit a financial crisis.

That was quashed. But now another club are in trouble – and The Yellows have benefited.

Blue Square Premier club Halifax Town collapsed last Friday with debts of more than 2 million.

Under FA rules, the best the Yorkshire side can currently hope for is demotion two levels to the Unibond League's Premier Division as a re-formed outfit.

And under the subsequent re-organisation of the divisions decided at a meeting on Wednesday, it means relegated Altrincham regain their place in the Blue Square Premier and relegated Hucknall return to their berth in the Blue Square North.

Halifax avoided the drop on the last day of the season, finishing one place above the drop-zone.

But they will now cease to exist in their current form after going bust only three years short of their centenary.

Their only hope of salvation is to start a new club from scratch, lower down the non-league pyramid.

Hucknall's reprieve has been welcomed by some at Watnall Road.

But it has hindered their plans to downgrade for next term.

They have already appointed new managers in Mick Galloway and Andy Miller, who had been assembling a squad to compete at Unibond level.

Chairman Brian Holmes said: "It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is the disappointment of missing out on playing teams like Eastwood Town and Ilkeston Town in the Unibond League.

"But on the other, if we had been relegated, it could have taken us five years to get back to Blue Square North level, so this could be a good opportunity for us."

Vice-chairman Dave Gamble echoed Holmes's sentiments about missing out on some crunch derby games in the Unibond.

"We were looking forward to the challenge of the Unibond," said

Gamble. "But now we are in the Blue Square North next season, then so be it.

"It is a chance for us to have another go at that level.

"Mick Galloway and Andy Miller will still do a good job and they will have an increased budget with which to do it.

"We appointed them with one eye on the future. We want them to build a team here and be successful and we believe they are the men for the job.

"We wanted them to be managing us in the Blue Square North, whether that was next season or the season after."

Galloway himself was excited at the prospect of being able to manage in the Blue Square North.

"In football, you have to aim as high as you can," he said. "We have another chance to play at Blue Square North level, so that is a bonus.

"Andy and myself have had to rethink our plans slightly because we will need a bigger squad.

"But that is not a problem. We are looking forward to next season. I expect us to hold our own."

The new teams joining Town in the Blue Square North are Droylsden, Farsley Celtic, King's Lynn, Fleetwood Town, Gateshead and Stafford Rangers.