The Football Association has confirmed that Ilkley Town AFC will play in the North West Counties Division One North next season.
It follows a nervous wait after the current season was halted because of the pandemic. At the time, the side was top of the West Yorkshire Premier Division. The FA has now decided to proceed with promotions and assessed Ilkley AFC on the quality of its facilities as well as the side's playing record over the last few seasons.
The club moves up to the tenth tier of the English game for the 2021/22 season - the highest an Ilkley football team has ever been in the football pyramid. The team will now get the opportunity to compete against well-established semi-professional clubs including local rivals Steeton and others across West Yorkshire, Lancashire and Manchester such as Bury AFC, Nelson, Bacup Borough, AFC Blackpool and South Liverpool FC.
Club chairman Richard Giles said: "This is an exciting new chapter for football in Ilkley. The club has made good progress in the last few years thanks to the hard work of many volunteers. The 4G pitch, built in 2017, was a game-changer and has been the springboard for development of all aspects of the club.
"This is a tremendous achievement for the men's first team. We pride ourselves on being a community club and are really pleased we can represent our town on a bigger stage. The whole club is thriving. We have a strong and sustainable infrastructure which includes junior players, girls and women plus an increasing supporter base. The increased profile of the first team will benefit the whole club."
First team manager Simon Armstrong said: "I am delighted we now have the opportunity to test ourselves at the next level. The players and coaching staff have worked hard to get to this point and we are ready for a new challenge. The players who have represented the club for the last two years have been outstanding and we feel are well equipped to go further. We also now have the opportunity to play in the FA Vase which should bring a lot of interest to the town."
The new season kicks off with the first game on 31st July 2021.
The full list of teams in North West Counties Division One North for 2021/22 is: AFC Blackpool, AFC Darwen, Ashton Town, Atherton LR, Bacup Borough, Bury AFC, Campion AFC, Chadderton, Cleator Moor Celtic, Daisy Hill, FC Isle of Man, Garstang, Golcar United, Holker Old Boys, Ilkley Town AFC, Nelson, Pilkington, South Liverpool, Steeton, St Helens Town.