Calmore Sports will not be promoted into the top rung of ECB Southern Premier League cricket next season, despite winning the Division 1 ‘feeder’ league this summer.

Damning ground markings for Calmore’s tree-lined Loperwood Park from the past season, revealed by the Premier League, have torpedoed any prospect of them being promoted to the ECB Premier Division.

League chairman David Ridley has announced the overall markings by visiting captains and panel umpires to Calmore were “well below the ‘silver’ accreditation grading required for them to even play in Division 1, let alone qualify them for promotion.”

“Calmore’s marks for the past 2017 season are significantly lower than the other nine teams in Division 1 – and there is only one ground with lower marks in all four divisions of SPCL.

“They mirror the pitch marks for 2016 when, as a Division 2 club, Calmore attracted the second lowest ground markings.

“Despite the low marks, Calmore’s ground accreditation has been kept at silver so they can continue to play in SPL1 for the 2018 season.”

“There have been some comments on social media about the accreditation system and I would like to make it clear that these are captains/umpires marks and not marks awarded, or in any way influenced, by the SPCL Committee”

Mr Ridley added that: “Visits prior to, during and after the season by the HCB Grounds and Facilities Committee have confirmed the overall pitch and outfield markings at Loperwood Park as a fair reflection of both the square and the outfield.”

In the absence of an enhanced ‘silver with gold accreditation’ Calmore Sports are not eligible to gain promotion, leaving the door open for Division 1 runners-up Basingstoke & North Hants to replace relegated Andover in the Premier Division next summer.

Basingstoke have an across-the-board ‘gold’ accreditation for their historic May’s Bounty ground and youth structure.

Reacting to the Premier League’s announcement, Calmore chairman Pete Lavelle commented: “This cannot take anything away from what the first team achieved on the field of play and the record books will show that for the 2017 season Calmore Sports were Division 1 champions.

“I know a lot of people will be disappointed with the decision, as I am, but there is nothing we can do about it, the decision has been made.

“I ask anyone who wants to vent their anger not to do so in the public domain on social media as this will only bring the club into disrepute with the league, and as a club I do not want our good reputation tarnished in any way.

“On a more positive note I am pleased to say that our colts have been upgraded from Silver to Gold accreditation with the SPL, so to all those who have been instrumental in this being awarded well done and keep up the good work, our colts are our future.”

”The club, its players, committee and supporters are naturally and understandably disappointed by the league’s decision but will graciously take their place, once again, in Southern League Division 1 for 2018.”