Louth Town have quit the Northern Counties East League and dropped down the non-league pyramid over delays to their new home.
The White Wolves garnered their highest-ever points tally in the NCEL last season in finishing sixth in Division One.
But at last week’s annual meeting the club’s committee agreed to resign from the step six league and drop into the Lincolnshire League.
Club chairman Steve Clark said they were forced into the tough decision while the wait goes on for a move away from their Park Avenue ground.
He said: “It really came down to the unsecure future of Park Avenue. The new ground is taking a little longer than we thought, and I’m afraid we couldn’t see an end goal.
“Our sponsor is a good friend of mine and I didn’t want him to put money into the club without an end goal.
“We have decided to take a step back and hopefully give the chance for a new ground to be built.
“We need to save a bit of money because it’s a very expensive league to be in.”
Town began their search for a new base in May 2011, and two years later, East Lindsey District Council agreed to sell them a five-acre site at Fairfield Industrial Estate.
A community interest company EARLY (Education, Advancement, Recreation for Lincolnshire Youngsters) was set up to help purchase the Fairfield site and is working on the club’s behalf to help find matched funding.
Last November the council approved plans to build 98 homes at Park Avenue, but on condition that developers would help with the club’s move.
“Park Avenue is getting very old and everything we do down there uncovers another problem,” Clark added.
“Plans have been passed at the new ground, we’re just waiting for funding.”
The club formed in 2007, following the demise of Louth United, and enjoyed instant success.
Back-to-back promotions saw Town reach the NCEL in 2010/11 and they went on to finish third just two seasons later.
Last week’s decision means the club will now miss out on FA Cup and FA Vase campaigns next season, and Clark believes they have become victims of their own success.
He said: “Last year was the best year in the club’s life so it was a really hard decision to take; a lot of people, including myself, are absolutely gutted.
“A lot of the players have been ringing to ask why, but once we explain our reasons they can see where we’re coming from.
“We are a new club and we really got too big, too quickly. We didn’t have the background to build our funds.
“We are very light on numbers on the committee and in terms of general help, and we are struggling for local finance to get day-to-day sponsors.”
Despite the uncertainty, Clark believes Town’s on-field strength will ensure the club’s future survival.
He said: “The junior side of the club is very strong so we decided to step back and build on that while still having some senior teams in the Lincolnshire League.
“It’s more about rebuilding than the end of the club. We are taking one step backwards to go two forwards.”