Champions withdraw from league

Reigning champions Peche Hill Select, pictured here against Battle Baptists last season, have withdrawn from the league ahead of the new campaign

Reigning champions Peche Hill Select, pictured here against Battle Baptists last season, have withdrawn from the league ahead of the new campaign

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The reigning Macron East Sussex Football League champions will not be back to defend their title during the coming season.

Peche Hill Select, who clinched the 2015/16 Premier Division title with an unbeaten record, have withdrawn from the league ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

The club, which is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary, will still be represented, however, as its old second team will now become its first - and only - side.

A club spokesman said that it was a difficult decision, but one the club felt it had to take as it wasn't confident of raising a sufficient number of players.

Title-winning manager Asher Grindle, who had been with Peche Hill since the age of 15, has joined Southern Combination League club Westfield and players have drifted off in various directions, albeit all on good terms.

The withdrawal of last season's champions means Rock-a-Nore have had a reprieve from relegation and will be part of a Premier Division which has expanded from 10 to 12 clubs. Eastbourne Rangers, Old Hastonians and Sidley United have come up from Division One, while Westfield II have made the switch from the Macron Store Southern Combination League.

There will be 49 clubs and 64 teams in total, and the league will continue to run six divisions. The line-up was rubber-stamped at its annual general meeting on Wednesday, last week.

Three of the other five divisions will contain 10 teams, including Division One (which ended last term with seven sides), and the remaining two will have 11. There has been quite a lot of promotion through the league as a consequence.

Encouragingly, the league is set to welcome seven new clubs and 12 new teams next season.

The newcomers include Bexhill Town and Rye Town, both of whom are in Division One, Hastings Athletic in Division Two, and Division Five trio Bexhill Broncos, Bexhill Spartans and Cranbrook Town, while Hollington United have reinstated their second team.

A good proportion of the Bexhill Town team is likely to be made up of players who took a year out after winning promotion from Division One for Bexhill AAC in the 2014/15 campaign.

The 2016/17 season will kick-off on Saturday September 3, and teams will face each other on a home and away basis over the subsequent eight months.

Macron East Sussex Football League constitution 2016/17 - Premier Division: Battle Baptists, Eastbourne Rangers, Hawkhurst United, Hollington United, Old Hastonians, Ore Athletic, Robertsbridge United, Rock-a-Nore, Sedlescombe Rangers, Sidley United, St Leonards Social, Westfield II.

Division 1: Bexhill Town, Crowhurst, Herstmonceux, Icklesham Casuals, Little Common II, Mountfield United, Northiam 75, Rye Town, The JC Tackleway, Wadhurst United.

Division 2: Bexhill AAC, Burwash, Eastbourne Athletic, Hastings Athletic, Hastings Rangers, Hooe Sports, Mayfield, Peche Hill Select, St Leonards Social II, Ticehurst, Westfield III.

Division 3: Battle Baptists II, Bexhill Rovers, Bexhill United II, Catsfield, Hailsham Athletico, Hollington United II, Orington, Pebsham Sibex, Punnetts Town, Sedlescombe Rangers II.

Division 4: Bexhill AAC II, Hawkhurst United II, Magham Down, Mayfield II, Parkfield, Sandhurst, Sovereign Saints, The JC Tackleway II, Victoria Baptists, West Hill United.

Division 5: Battle Baptists III, Bexhill Broncos, Bexhill Spartans, Cranbrook Town, Hampden Park United, Icklesham Casuals II, Northiam 75 II, Robertsbridge United II, Sedlescombe Rangers III, West Hill United II, Wittersham II.

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