Alton manager Kevin Adair has admitted his relief after the FA confirmed his side will remain in the Combined Counties Premier Division South next season.

Rumours had circulated that Alton may be moved back to the Wessex League this summer, only 12 months after being moved to the Combined Counties.

Adair was desperate to avoid more upheaval, and is delighted the Brewers are staying put.

“The feeling is relief more than anything,” he said.

“We’ve been through a league move before and didn’t want to go through it again. I feel for those clubs who do have to move.”

The new clubs in the Combined Counties Premier Division South are Tooting & Mitcham United, Sandhurst Town, Epsom & Ewell and Spelthorne Sports.

Tooting & Mitcham were relegated from the Isthmian League South Central Division, Sandhurst were promoted from Combined Counties Division One, Epsom & Ewell were promoted from Southern Combination Division One and Spelthorne were transferred from the Combined Counties Premier Division North.

Raynes Park Vale and Badshot Lea won promotion from the Combined Counties Premier Division South last season, while Banstead Athletic and Frimley Green were relegated.

Adair admitted the news that Alton are remaining in the Combined Counties is a boost, as he aims to push on next season.

“For us, it will be the first season where I’m heading into it knowing exactly what we will face,” said Adair.

“It’s my fifth season at the club and we’ve had stop-start seasons impacted by Covid, a null and void season, getting promoted and then this time last year being moved to the Combined Counties at the last minute. I feel this might be the season where I have to show exactly what I can do.

“We’re still a little bit behind other clubs, though, as we were waiting for confirmation that we’re not moving leagues.”

Alton finished in 13th place in the Combined Counties Premier Division South last season, and ended the campaign in excellent form – winning five of their last seven league games.

Adair hopes to take the good form into the new season.

“We were on a good run of form at the end of last season,” he said.

“It’s never easy to judge form at the end of a season, as 50 per cent of clubs have nothing to play for, but we were in a good place.

“With play-offs being introduced at Step 5 next season I think most clubs would be thinking promotion is a possibility.”

Work has already begun retaining and recruiting players, and Adair is expecting a busy summer at Anstey Park.

“We’re having discussions with our players,” he said.

“I’ve got a good idea of the people who have doubts and the people who will definitely stay.

“Once I get players through the door they generally stay, but last summer I obviously lost players with the league move.

“The grass is not always greener for players, though.

“We’re also working on bringing in players. As a club we don’t have a big budget and can’t attract players with big money, but everything we promised to our players last August was delivered. That’s not always the case at all clubs at this level.

“We stuck to what we said we would do, so hopefully the word gets out about that.

“Some lads want to carry on training until pre-season, so for the next few weeks we will put on sessions for those players who want them.

“It’s not compulsory at all, but some players want sessions.

“Come August, I expect us to be close to where I want to be.”