An extra competitive element throughout the non-league pyramid is just what the doctor ordered according to joint Padiham boss Liam Smith.
A structural revamp has potentially opened up an extra promotion place in the Hallmark Security Premier Division with the best second placed club across step five, based on a points per game ratio, earning the right to jump up a tier.
At present, that prize would be bestowed on Hellenic Football League top tier side Thatcham Town who have averaged 2.5 points per game after 28 played.
Charnock Richard are in line to finish as the second best side in the Storks’ group but the league newcomers are further down the pecking order having averaged 2.16 points.
Smith, who was one of Steve Cunningham’s right hand men when Colne were promoted to the Evo-Stik First Division North, said: “There could be an extra promotion place which is massive to have. Look at Colne, every credit to them because they’re doing really well.
“They’ve won five games in a row and because there are play-off places they’ve put themselves in the picture.
“They were 20th at the back end of the year but now they’ve won five on the bounce and they’re only about eight points away from the top six. Having that added incentive keeps you competitive over the season.”
Smith, though, isn’t willing to leave anything to chance and is determined to replicate the success that he and Dixon Lambert enjoyed when the Reds were crowned champions.
“We’ve been flirting with sixth and eighth so that would be a massive carrot to dangle in front of us if extra places were added,” he said.
“It keeps you performing throughout the season. It helps levels of motivation. An extra promotion place is something that is much needed in this division and would add another competitive edge to the season.
“It makes it interesting. It’s the toughest league in the pyramid to get out of because only one team goes up.
“The demands physically and mentally are huge, you’ve got to be at 100% every week in this division. It’s testament to how this league has developed.
“If there’s a runaway leader it still gives you something to aim for rather than just playing for pride. It adds more excitement.
“Our ambition remains to win the league, though. It’s a nice back up to have if there is an extra place but we want to finish top.”