FC CLACTON co-owner Stephen Andrews admitted breathing a sigh of relief after it was confirmed the Seasiders are staying in the Thurlow Nunn League.

The FA released the allocated positions for next season’s step five and six divisions on Friday, 48 hours after holding a meeting at Wembley.

There had been speculation Clacton would be moved sideways into the Essex Senior League, as has happened to neighbours Stanway Rovers and also the likes of Saffron Walden Town.

However, pending any appeals, it has now been confirmed that they will continue playing in the 20-team Thurlow Nunn League premier division, alongside the likes of Brantham Athletic.

“We’re delighted,” a relieved Andrews told the Gazette.

“There were many rumours flying around that the FA were going to move us sideways into the Essex Senior League.

“We spent last week fearing the worst, so there was a large collective sigh of relief when we were officially told where we would be playing for the coming year.

“The planning for which starts now and we’ll shortly be sitting down with (manager) Tom (Austin) and (assistant) Adrian (Webster).

“Together we’ll be doing all we can to build on last season and improve year on year.”

In addition to Clacton, the full 20-team provisional line-up features Brantham, Ely City, Framlingham Town, Godmanchester Rovers, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth Town, Hadleigh United, Haverhill Rovers, Histon, Kirkley and Pakefield, Long Melford, Newmarket Town, Norwich United, Stowmarket Town, Thetford Town, Walsham-le-Willows, Whitton United, Woodbridge Town and Wroxham.

The new Thurlow Nunn League South division will feature Holland FC, alongside the likes of Wivenhoe Town, Halstead Town, Little Oakley, Braintree Town Reserves and former Essex and Suffolk Border League pair Harwich and Parkeston and Coggeshall United.

Meanwhile, Clacton have confirmed that all-time leading goalscorer Kevin Coyle has left the Rush Green Bowl.

Coyle, who clocked up his 400th appearance last season, announced the news via his Twitter account on Saturday afternoon.

Coyle became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer after scoring a hat-trick in the 4-3 win at Saffron Walden Town in April.

Clacton have confirmed dates for six pre-season friendlies.

The Seasiders will visit Aveley on July 5, Colne Athletic on July 7 (in a match to be played at Strangers Corner, in Brightlingsea), Little Oakley on July 14, Braintree Town Reserves on July 21 and Brightlingsea Regent on July 24. They then welcome Heybridge Swifts to the Bowl on July 31.