BRIDPORT are among the clubs involved in consultations over creating a new merger between the South West Peninsula League and the Toolstation Western League.

Proposals unveiled by league chiefs involve splitting three divisions of 78 teams at Step 5 and 6 into five divisions at Step 5 and 6, comprising 90 clubs, for the 2023/24 season.

In order for the merger to work, 12 teams must be added so league chiefs can divide the planned total of 90 clubs into five 18-team divisions.

The upcoming 2022/23 campaign is outlined as a transitional season for the plans to start to take effect.

This has ramifications for Bridport as the Bees are currently waiting to be placed in a Step 6 division following their relegation from the Western League Premier.

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Options for the Bees include Western League Division One, the South West Peninsula League East or the Wessex League Division One with the latter considered to be the unlikeliest destination.

Under the proposed changes, the 2023/24 season would see a ‘Step 5 North’ division taking in clubs from Bristol and its surrounds, Somerset and possibly East Devon and West Dorset.

‘Step 5 South’ would envelope teams from Devon and Cornwall, plus South Somerset and West Dorset.

Three Step 6 leagues would be created, titled ‘East’, ‘Central’ and ‘West’ – with the general aim of reducing travel to 100 miles per game for Step 6 clubs and 160 miles per match for Step 5 clubs.

After an initial FA restructure for the recently completed 2021/22 season, the plans are in response to some Western League clubs facing a total of 400-mile round trips, with West Cornwall to Bristol considered the most arduous journey.

Promotion and relegation between Steps 4, 5 and 6 must still be ironed out and the name of the proposed merged league is yet to be decided.