AFTER nearly four months of uncertainty Lingfield can begin preparing for the new season in the Sussex County League Division One.
Linggers had the threat of relegation hanging over their head since they failed their ground-grading inspection in March due to a minor path issue, but after Sidley United withdrew from Division One due to financial reasons, the Godstone Road club were handed a reprieve last Thursday.
The Surrey club are still yet to pass ground-grading but they have an inspection scheduled for the day before their first game, which is not until Lingfield Cricket Club have handed back the ground in September.
"They will be coming to look at the ground the second week in September, which gives us time to put the path back in after the cricket club move out," manager Dixie Dean said. "If we don't pass we will have to play our home games somewhere else, but we will pass."
Dean admits he has already lost the signature of two players because of the uncertainty over relegation, but is pleased he can start preparing.
"We had Jamie Lawrence at training this week, and I'm expecting Nicky Forster to be about for training after his marathon," Dean said. "We will have mostly the same squad as last year, although Louis Gallagher has a scholarship in America and Scott Elgar has gone to Chipstead.
"Scott wanted to play in midfield rather than as a full-back and to be frank he isn't good enough for a spot in my midfield, but we wish him well and he's welcome back anytime."
And with Division One safety, Dean is confident for the future of Lingfield's youth system.
"We have one of the best youth set-ups around, including all the bigger clubs in the area," he said. "That would have been in danger if we had been relegated, but kids come to Lingfield because they know they will get a chance in the first team.
"Bobby Bryce and Bobby Clements, my U18 coaches, do a brilliant job. They are producing some brilliant young players."
Lingfield had their first friendly on Saturday, beating Epsom & Ewell 5-1, and are due to play Guildford City and Deal Town in the coming weeks.
"We are looking for a friendly on August 3 – I couldn't organise one earlier because I didn't know what league I'd be in," Dean explained.