Penrith AFC have been given a reprieve from relegation from Northern League Division One.

Despite finishing second bottom, the Frenchfield Park club will remain in the same division.

It follows a reorganisation of steps five and six of the National League system.

And the decision means there will be a Cumbrian derby in Division One next season after Carlisle City's promotion.

Penrith had faced an anxious wait to learn whether or not they would be relegated after finishing in the bottom two.

But only bottom side Billingham Town will go down, the Northern League have confirmed, with Division Two increased to 22 from 21 teams for 2021/22.

In a statement on the changes, the Northern League said: "Pickering Town FC in North Yorkshire will join Division One, with Billingham Town relegated to Division Two.

"Penrith has been given a reprieve from relegation.

"The promotion of Carlisle City and Heaton Stannington to Division One has been confirmed.

"Durham City has been relegated out of the league and the FA has increased the number of clubs in Division Two – which will now run with 22 teams (compared to 21 this season).

"With North Shields and Consett promoted out of the league, the first division will remain at 20 teams.

The other clubs joining the league are:  Prudhoe YC FC Seniors, Chester-le-Street United and Boro Rangers from the Northern Alliance, Wearside League and North Riding League respectively.

"These decisions are subject to appeal to the FA."

League chairman Glenn Youngman said: “We’re delighted to welcome new teams to the league.  I’m sure they will be made to feel very welcome as they travel to new grounds in the region.

“Expanding the second division to 22 teams means more revenue for clubs.

“The close season will give everyone a much-needed break, allowing them to come back raring to go in July.

“It’s been great to have finished a full season for the first time in three years and I would like to thank everyone involved in our league for all their hard work over the last season.”

Penrith are seeking a new manager after recently parting company with Chris Humphrey.

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