Thurlow Nunn League chairman Peter Hutchings has confirmed next season’s First Division is set to be split into two separate leagues.
The divisions — which are to be branded North and South — will be implemented as part of the Football Association’s proposed changes to the non-league structures.
The league confirmed each division will contain at least 16 teams, although this is now believed to be 17, with clubs in the likes of the Kershaw Premier Division, Suffolk & Ipswich League Premier Division, Anglian Combination Premier Division and the Essex and Suffolk Border League Premier Division all given the opportunity to apply to make the jump from Step 7 to 6.
Any interested party would need to meet a basic ground grading requirement by May 31, though these, according to Hutchings, are ‘quite light’.
Clubs will then be given until 2020 to bring their facilities up to scratch.
Hutchings said: “We have had a number of applications and are expecting more.
“Each club needs to meet the ground grading, but these are quite light. We want to give everyone that is interested a chance.
“The rest of the work can be spread over a period of time.
“Our local Thurlow Nunn First Division sides are set to be welcoming current Anglian Combination outfits Mulbarton Wanderers and Harleston Town from next season.”
The changes will also see at least four sides relegated from the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division in an attempt to reduce numbers in the Eastern Counties League top flight.
March Town United chairman Phil White has welcomed the move by the Thurlow Nunn League and believes the smaller leagues will be a good thing for Fenland clubs.
White said: “We are a bit out in the sticks here in Fenland.
“It looks like the changes will mean less games and less travelling, which will be great for clubs.
“I think a north and south split will mean we are travelling to Norfolk and Suffolk, which will remove the long trips down to Essex.
“It will also be easier to fit in any re-arranged games as we will hopefully have less mid-week games and a couple of spare Saturday afternoons.
“We haven’t lost too many games this year – our groundsman has done a great job – but I know there are some sides who are struggling to catch up and fit everything in.
“We are all feeling good going into next year and looking forward to the new set-up.”