Duffers’ Diaries: In which division will Ilkeston play? Nobody seems to know just yet...

Chris Shaw leads the Robins out at the New Manor Ground. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Chris Shaw leads the Robins out at the New Manor Ground. Photo by Craig Lamont.

In last week’s column I made quite a big assumption that Ilkeston Town will be playing East Midlands Counties League football next season - that being a lateral move geographically compared to the division in which they currently compete.

But a chat with the club’s chief operating officer Anthony Redwood earlier this week, as part of a separate piece I’m writing, revealed that it’s far from cut and dried as to where the Robins could be playing their football.

Redwood remains unsure just how restructuring higher up the pyramid could affect step six, even hinting that he’d hoped a place in the Midland Premier League might be possible despite Ilkeston not having won promotion ‘on the pitch’.

However, that was deemed an unlikely prospect by one of the Midland Football League officials I was chatting to at a Robins game recently.

Indeed, by all accounts it seems the FA have little clue themselves as to who will end up where and are presumably waiting upon all the final placings and play-off outcomes to be decided before sitting down and reorganising things.

The EMCL is reducing from 22 to 20 teams next season, and although in various non-league forums and websites, Ilkeston are expected to be included in those 20 teams, the issue is yet to be decided by the FA.

The EMCL would, in my view, remain the most common sense place to put Ilkeston, assuming they are to remain at step six.

Geographically their opponents are by and large far close than those in the MFL Division One and therefore travelling costs and indeed crowds will be more favourable.

But the leagues committee at the Football Association have always been ones to throw a few curveballs out there when it comes to allocations so for now, we should perhaps have an open mind as to just where, and at what level, Ilkeston will play their football next season!

In the meantime, as I write this Ilkeston are about to end their season at Cadbury Athletic having, as expected, sealed a second place finish thanks to the win at Chelmsley last weekend.

As highlighted last week, that’s a fantastic achievement for a club only formed three weeks before the start of the season and shouldn’t be underestimated.

It will certainly be an interesting summer as Steve Chettle aims to keep his best players and add quality to the team.

*In news that I know will appease literally millions of people, I’ll be keeping this column running for much of the summer despite things quietening down a bit as the season ends.

There will no doubt be plenty to talk about with the World Cup, and given, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be covering a lot of football at Derby County (and perhaps Nottingham Forest too) next season as we expand our online coverage of the Rams and the Reds, I’ll probably rattle on about those sides too given there is more than a bit of interest in them locally!