The Essex Senior League is set to start with 20 clubs next season after promotion frontrunners Ilford were sensationally voted out.
We can reveal that 16 member clubs voted in a secret ballot at last night’s AGM to expel the Foxes, with just 6 backing them to stay in.
The Essex Senior League told community station East London Radio that the issue was “several missed overdue deadlines for League fees & fines” – something that Ilford dispute.
They also claimed to have ‘bent over backwards to help Ilford’.
Ilford, Clapton’s historic rivals stretching back to the 19th century, vowed on Twitter last night they would fight against the decision.
However they tweeted they could not say more due to legal issues. They later added that it was ‘being dealt with right now.’
It’s unclear who will deal with their appeal and what the deadline will be.
Meanwhile the coaches and players are continuing to prepare for the new season.
Eton Manor had already decided to take a year out as ‘non-playing members’ of the league with a view to returning next season.
Meanwhile Clapton and Hackney Wick’s situation remains unresolved as both clubs are understood to have been given extra time to confirm where they will play next season.
Haringey & Waltham have also confusingly changed their name to Woodford Town 2017 – unconnected to the newly-reformed Woodford Town who are starting life again in the Spartan South Midlands League.
The current Ilford FC was founded in 1987 after its predecessor was one many clubs swallowed up into Dagenham & Redbridge.
However, the Ilford FC it carries on from were one of the giants of the non-league, founded in 1881 and winning the FA Amateur Cup twice and the Essex Senior Cup 13 times among many honours.
Clapton fans, and wider followers of non-league football, will sincerely hope the issue is resolved and Ilford can return.
The 20 teams set to play in the Essex Senior League are as follows…
Great Wakering Rovers
Woodford Town 2017