Furious over non-league shake-up - and Hastings boss wants to 'smash the league'
Chris Agutter says he’s over his ‘sulking’ – and ready to help Hastings United smash their league.
The Pilot Field boss says he is irritated that clubs at lower levels of the non-league pyramid have been promoted in an FA restructure and his side haven’t.
But he says that injustice amounts to his team talk for the 2021-22 season, in which Hastings will aim to make it third time lucky and secure the promotion from the Isthmian south east division they feel they have deserved over two truncated campaigns.
It’s fighting talk from Agutter that will delight the United faithful as they start to look forward to the new season.
As has been well-chronicled, Hastings were clear at the top of their step four division when the 2019-20 season was axed with only around ten games to go because of the UK’s first lockdown.
They were top again when the 20-21 season was halted even earlier – at the end of October – and then time ran out on hopes of a restart.
Insult has been added to injury for Hastings by the FA ruling that clubs at steps five and six should be promoted based on points-per-game accrued in 19-20 and 20-21.
Had that rule been applied to step four, Hastings would be looking forward to an Isthmian premier campaign. Agutter, who has already signed 14 existing squad members and two new faces for 21-22, said: “It’s frustrating. It infuriates me that clubs at other steps have been promoted and we haven’t.
“Now we just want to go and smash the league. My team talk’s done because what’s happened will certainly motivate the players.
“We’ve strengthened – we’re a better team than we were before so we’re very confident.”
Agutter had said previously the loss of two seasons in a row when Hastings had been top dogs had left him lacking motivation.
But he says now: “I’ve got my motivation back – I will stop sulking.”
Agutter’s squad will return for pre-season training on July 5 and a couple of home friendlies have been announced.
The Us will play Carshalton on Saturday, July 31, and Tooting and Mitcham on Saturday, August 7.
The much-anticipated league campaign starts on Saturday, August 14.