RAMSBOTTOM United are waiting on the impact of the Football Association’s non-league restructure.

As a result of proposed changes to steps four to six of the National League System, a new division has been created at step four to be administered by the Northern Premier League.

The top three clubs in the North West Counties Premier League over the past two Covid-shortened seasons on points-per-game – Warrington Rylands, 1874 Northwich and Bootle – have been invited to apply for “upward movement”.

As have the top three clubs in the Northern League and Northern Counties East League and the top-ranked clubs in the remaining 11 step five leagues.

Rammy, who have spent the last two seasons pushing for promotion from the NPL North West Division, are waiting to see how they will fit into the new-look, three-division step four, with a league being added to the current North West and South East Divisions.

Club secretary, Tony Cunningham said: “This will finally put in place a symmetrical pyramid beginning with the National League at step one (one division), down to eight divisions at step four. It has long been called for. This will see Ramsbottom United placed in one of three divisions as opposed to one of two in the past.

“Will this mean less travelling and more derby matches?

“In theory yes, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the way the clubs are to be divided, the Rams will have more travelling to do should we be placed in a Northern division as opposed to a more sensible North West. We will have to see.

“What does amaze me is the poorly thought out way that the FA have rebuilt the pyramid.

“Upon deciding to alter step three from three divisions to four and step four from six divisions to eight, I would have thought the creation of an entirely new competition (as was the case in 1979 when the Alliance – now National – League was created) would have been more sensible, overseeing the game in the central area of the country, as opposed to the Southern League operating two divisions at step three, with the Isthmian League and now the Northern Premier League running with three divisions at step four.

“However, the FA in their wisdom decided to give each league at steps three and four an extra division to control instead, and we have to live with it.

“The final decisions are expected before the end of April, so we will wait to see what impact the additional division will have on the Rams.”

The FA said: “The committees are recommending to the FA Council that the structural changes to the number of divisions in the NLS be completed in order to address the imbalance that currently exists and achieve the ‘pure pyramid’ at steps 1-6.

“The planned and delayed restructure comprises of one additional division at step 4, two additional divisions at step 5 and a reduction of divisions, from 20 to 17, at step 6.

“As part of the proposals, 110 clubs would be upwardly moved within the pyramid at steps 4-6 in order to facilitate the new divisions, protecting the integrity of the NLS whilst supporting clubs with a desire and ambition to progress, without undermining the stability of the system.

“The restructure will have a positive impact on a significant number of clubs, supporting them with reduced travel and costs and providing greater opportunities for generating income via localised fixtures.”