Heanor Town boss Glen Clarence is predicting as tough a Midland Football League Premier Division as ever next season.
The Lions manager, speaking less than three weeks before his side return for pre-season training, believes clubs like his are having to compete against far wealthier outfits.
And he’s keen to see another promotion place created – a complaint heard regularly from clubs in other Step 5 leagues like the NCEL Premier.
Some of the newboys in Heanor’s division next season will only increase the fierce competition for the one existing promotion place, according to Clarence.
“As always the league will be tough, there’s some massive budgets now in non-league football,” he said.
“Added to the five teams that finished above us last year we have Bromsgrove joining the league, who didn’t lose a game last season, and Worcester City who are dropping down from the National League North.
“They have former West Brom striker Lee Hughes as their player coach.”
Clarence wants the game’s authorities to make changes that will make life a little easier for clubs at this level.
“Simply having one promotion place, having to travel as far as Hereford – the FA need to have a look at the layout of Midlands Step 5 football and get it more centralised – or at the very least introduce play-offs,” he said.
Heanor finished sixth last season, 23 points behind league winners Alvechurch, but Clarence won’t be throwing the baby out with the bathwater when he builds a squad to compete in the 2017/18 campaign.
He’s keen to retain a sense of continuity and hopes some of the club’s emerging talents stick around.
“We have a few new faces coming for pre-season but our focus has been on keeping a similar squad to last year, making sure our young up and coming lads that did well stay, and adding a bit of experience arond them,” he added.