Provisional Hellenic League Premier Division constitution announced
Friday 25 May 2018 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 25 May 2018 at 19:27)
The provisional constitution for the 2018-19 Hellenic League Premier Division season has been published by the Football Association, along with allocations for all other step five and six leagues.
With three teams promoted to the Southern League, there has been significant change too. In all there are five new teams joining the Premier Division, two of which Royal Wootton Bassett Town have never met before.
However, the new season will see the return of three familiar opponents.
After twelve seasons at step four, Bishop's Cleeve return to the Hellenic League family having finished bottom of the Southern League Division One Western Division in 2017-18.
It's been longer since Bassett have met the Cheltenham-based side too. The last league meeting between the teams took place in April 2005, shortly before Bassett's relegation to Division One West, with Bishop's Cleeve triumphing 2-0.
Prior to that, the teams were regular opponents in Division One in the 1990s and during Bassett's five-year spell in the Premier Division at the turn of the Millennium.
Overall, Bassett have faced Bishop's Cleeve 24 times in the league, winning eight games, drawing six and losing on ten occasions.
The other two sides Bassett have met numerous times before are Ardley United and local rivals Shrivenham, who have been promoted as Division One West champions and runners-up respectively.
Bassett last met Ardley in the 2016-17 Premier Division campaign, in which the Oxfordshire side finished fifth. However, they voluntarily accepted relegation at the end of the season after an overhaul at committee level and a change in manager.
Ardley have held the whip hand historically against Bassett. They have met 26 times in the league, with Bassett recording just four wins compared to fifteen defeats. Seven matches have ended in a draw.
Shrivenham's return to Premier Division football following a three-year absence ensures that Highworth Town's promotion does not reduce the number of local derbies to be faced by Sam Collier's team. And Bassett will be hoping to maintain their strong record against Shrivenham, which has seen them win four and draw two of six prior league contests.
However, the games next season should be highly competitive affairs, with Shrivenham guided by Division One West promotion expert Gareth Davies, who has led teams to a top two finish in consecutive seasons.
Meanwhile, Bassett are set to acquaint themselves with Virginia Water and Holmer Green for the first time.
Virginia Water come into the Premier Division having finished as winners of Division One East last season. That was their second title triumph in a row after they came up from the Surrey Elite Intermediate League as champions in 2016-17. Sharing Windsor's Stag Meadow ground, they are not strangers to this level of football, having previously played in the Combined Counties League.
Holmer Green are the final newcomers, and have been transferred into the Hellenic League from the Spartans South Midlands Premier Division. The Buckinghamshire outfit finished fifteenth in that division last year. Next season will be their ninth in a row playing at step five.
While Thatcham Town and Bracknell Town join Highworth in being promoted, Burnham and Woodley United have been relegated to Division One East and West respectively.
The full provisional constitution for the 2018-19 Hellenic League Premier Division is as follows:
Brackley Town Saints
Brimscombe and Thrupp
Oxford City Nomads
Royal Wootton Bassett Town