Clapton have applied for promotion to the Ryman North, according to local football expert Dan Wilson.
Five Essex Senior League clubs are said to have put themselves forward for the one promotion spot with the Tons vying with Barking, FC Romania, Ilford and Waltham Forest.
Club chief executive Vince McBean had cast doubt on whether he’d apply for promotion, telling the Newham Recorder that fans were alienating other clubs who would veto Clapton’s promotion bid, although they have no power to do so.
For the Tons to be promoted, they would need to:
1) Pass the ground grading
2) Finish in the top 3
3) Finish higher than any of the other promotion-chasing clubs who pass the grading
All of the applicants including the Tons have until the end of March to satisfy the FA’s Grade E ground requirements.
However, this won’t pose a problem for Waltham Forest or Ilford – who have played Ryman football in the last few years – or FC Romania, who share Cheshunt’s ground.
League leaders Barking remain overwhelming favourites to make the leap to the Ryman League, assuming they pass the ground requirements.
It’s unlikely more than one ESL club will be promoted, but it is possible if other Step 5 leagues across the country fail to provide a club worthy of promotion.
The chances of success for Clapton seem very slim given Barking’s runaway success on the pitch and the work needed to be done at the Old Spotted Dog.
That includes infrastructure changes like a bigger main stand and hard standing terrace to replace the areas of grass banking.
Other issues to be addressed include parking for away team coaches, refreshments for fans and a tannoy system.
Previously we have reported on visiting teams ‘ complaints about the facilities, and the general cosmetic appearance of parts of the ground, which would also need to be addressed.
However, these issues don’t seem insurmountable so it will be interesting to see if the OSD passes the inspection or how far away from the standard it is.