Hawks in favour of play-offs shake-up

Lee Bradbury and his Hawks celebrate the Ryman League premier division title
Lee Bradbury and his Hawks celebrate the Ryman League premier division title
Privett Park

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The Hawks will be voting in favour of a revolutionary change to the National League play-off systems at this weekend’s annual general meeting at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Next season could see play-off places in non-league’s top three divisions extended from four clubs to six under controversial plans being put forward.

Member clubs will be asked to vote on the proposal and the Hawks are backing it.

‘We think it is a fantastic idea and will definitely be voting in favour,’ said Hawks manager Lee Bradbury.

‘I don’t think there will be many clubs voting against it.

‘It increases the chances of clubs getting promoted and the format being suggested is a good one.

‘I also think it will make the league stronger because with the increased opportunity clubs might push a little bit harder to get there.

‘The idea will also bring with it other big advantages for clubs at the end of the season.

‘There will be increased revenue for clubs from the extra games, it will attract bigger crowds and of course there is also the excitement it will generate.’

Under the proposed system the champions will still earn automatic promotion. The second and third-placed teams would instantly secure a place in the semi-finals – with the other clubs fighting it out to join them.

Fourth would play seventh and fifth versus sixth in one-leg ties with the semi-finals also being one-off games at the ground of the higher-ranked team.

Bradbury insists the Hawks will be aiming to make the play-offs next season, whatever the format.

‘We know it will be tough after being promoted but it is something we will be setting out to achieve,’ said the Hawks boss.

‘There will be no mid-table mentality because all the time I am manager we will have aspirations to push on.

‘I know the league and how strong it is and this season will be no different.

‘People think because Ebbsfleet and Maidenhead have gone up it will be a more open affair.

‘There are always a few surprises and hopefully we can be one of them.’

Bradbury is showing faith with the squad that won the Ryman League premier division title, although he hopes to add one or two more faces.

The only major arrival so far this summer is former Pompey striker Matt Tubbs.

One or two more new faces might be expected but Bradbury believes the squad he has is good enough to make an impact.

‘There was a great togetherness in the squad and our promotion was built on that,’ he added.

‘I trust the players and know they can play at the higher level.’

The showpiece pre-season friendly against Pompey at Westleigh Park has been brought forward to Saturday, July 8.