MALVERN Town boss Les Jones believes the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division will be a more competitive league after its numbers were reduced from 22 to 20 teams.
Following Wednesday nights AGM, league officials confirmed the 20-strong division which waved goodbye to Shawbury United (promoted to Midland League Premier), Tipton Town (relegated to Division One) and Bromyard Town (relegated to Division One) and welcomed newly promoted Shifnal Town.
With the adverse weather conditions affecting a catalogue of games throughout the winter period, causing a fixture backlog in the process towards the end of the 2015/16 campaign, Jones told the Observer a reduced Premier Division will be better in the long run.
“The league next season is going to be better now that we’re only going to be playing 38 games instead of 42,” he said.
“When you look at it, 42 games is a lot especially when the backlog started to happen and there was so many mid-week fixtures.
“As there’s no play-offs and only one team goes up, teams in-and-around sixth or seventh had nothing to play for towards the end of the season so I think the shorter league will be a whole lot better and make it more competitive.
“It’s a very demanding league and it will be very tough to finish at the top of the pile.”
After AFC Bridgnorth finished as Premier Division runners-up for the second year running, Jones believes they will be the side to watch as well as free-scoring Wolverhampton Sporting Community who netted 130 goals in the league last season.
“Bridgnorth have been unlucky the past two years and they’ve got a new manager so we certainly can’t rule them out for promotion,” he said.
“Wolverhampton Sporting Community, Wolverhampton Casuals and Pegasus Juniors are going to be very strong and I expect Cradley Town, who tailed off a bit last season, to come back and have another good go at things.
“I also think Wellington will be fighting up there with us as they’ve got a good young team who have got a lot stronger.
“If you look at last season we had a fantastic end to the campaign, winning ten league games on the bounce, but it’s important we start well this season if we want to be up there fighting for promotion.”