PADIHAM secretary Alan Smith believes more than one club should go up in the North West Counties Premier Division after the Storks joined Colne and Barnoldswick Town by applying for promotion this season.

Padiham currently sit second in the 22-team league and were yesterday named on a list of 10 clubs who have formally applied to be considered for promotion to the Evo-Stik League, should they win the division.

Among the other clubs named were East Lancashire rivals Colne and Barnoldswick, who sit fifth and eighth, as well as league leaders Maine Road.

Smith has described the current campaign as ‘the best chance we’ve ever had’ to secure promotion to the Evo-Stik League, after expressing his delight with the team’s form under manager Steve Wilkes this season.

“We wouldn’t have applied for promotion if we weren’t hopeful,” Smith said. “It won’t be easy, 10 clubs have applied and some have financial backing. We have a gone a different route with local lads.

“But we will give our full support to the manager and do everything we can to assist him.

“This is the best chance we’ve ever had in our entire history and we are going to give it a go.”

Smith, however, believes that in future seasons the FA must change the rules that currently mean only one side is promoted.

“This is the only level in the football pyramid where there is only one promotion place and the FA need to look at it,” he said.

“It’s something that has been discussed in this league for a long time. It is a bottleneck.

“I’ve been reading the Conference want three up three down now, but you would have to carry that through the other leagues.

“If you had three clubs promoted from our division, there are 14 leagues in level five and only six in level four, so it would mean seven going down from each league at level four.

“But there are only 12 promotion places across the 14 leagues so in theory it is possible that if every club has a good enough ground to go up, you could win the league and not be promoted, although that hasn’t happened so far.

“Maybe two teams would be best, or even a play-off with the team that finishes next to the relegation places in the league above.”

Padiham have to make imp-rovements to their ground by March 31 to remain eligible for promotion at the end of the season, although they would also have to resolve the FA’s concerns over the leasing issue at the Arbories.

“The lease for the ground is in the name of Padiham Sports Club, which was set up after the Second World War to allow the football club and the cricket club to be reborn,” Smith said. “It wasn’t a problem for grants from the National Lottery, but for some reason the FA think it is a problem. They want me to sort out a document, which we will have to spend money on when we could be spending it on facilities or sport.”