CHURCH Stretton have confirmed they intend to move back to a revamped Shropshire football league system next season – and Ludlow FC could well be following suit.

The new league, set to be called the Salop Leisure Football League, will begin this autumn with at least 25 teams competing over two divisions – and Stretton plan to be among them.

The Football Association’s decision to null and void the current season due to the coronavirus outbreak was expected by many to push the Shropshire League’s rejig back a year.

But the Advertiser understands that while the FA’s planned grassroots restructure has been put off until next summer, that will not affect the Salop League’s status as a new feeder league into the pyramid at step seven of the non-league game.

Stretton secretary Paul Smith told the Advertiser the club were leaving the West Midlands League to join the new league – and Ludlow FC said they are strongly considering the possibility too.

Smith said Stretton had resigned from the West Midlands League last month before the annulment of the season handed the league – which was set to be relieved of feeder status – a year’s reprieve.

“Obviously we didn’t know that was going to happen when we resigned,” admitted Smith. “But we can always reapply.

“But the big aim for us now is the Shropshire League and we have had an email to say that the coronavirus issue is not going to affect the league starting.”

While admitting the move was a gamble, Smith added: “The main reason we’ve left is that the West Midlands League is falling apart – there’s no step up from that league now.

“Our chairman has been to all the meetings for the new league and from what he’s told me, it’s all extremely positive.”

Ludlow – who were vying with Stretton for promotion from West Midlands Two this season – are still awaiting clarification on some issues but boss Chris Waldron told the Advertiser he wants to move too.

“If there is definitely non-league feeder status, we will more than likely go in it,” Waldron admitted. “If not, it would be a step backwards to drop back down to county football.”

Ludlow’s tenants Shawbury United, however, are not joining the new league and will remain in the West Midlands Premier Division next season before assessing their options next summer.

Chairman Dave Richards, who also revealed Shawbury will enter an under-23 side into West Mids Division Two next term, added: “We are aiming to push for promotion back to the Midland Premier.

“We know that is a tough ask given where we were likely to finish this season but the lads have learned a lot about what this league is about over the past seven or eight months.”