A threatened breakaway from the Home Counties Premier League (HCPL) has moved a step closer with Hertfordshire clubs backing a proposal to set up on their own.

In a poll of 24 clubs in HCPL Divisions 1 and 2 East, and Hertfordshire League Division 1, there was a split of 15-5 in favour of a move to quit the Premier League set-up, with four clubs not replying.

If the breakaway goes ahead, it is likely to occur before the 2013 season.

A final decision is expected to be made at a Hertfordshire League meeting next week.

The HCPL are set to discuss the implications of a breakaway tonight.

The ramifications would be huge for Oxfordshire clubs.

Oxford, Thame Town and Shipton-under Wychwood, all of whom were relegated from their HCPL divisons last season, would be reinstated.

Meanwhile, Aston Rowant would be promoted to Division 1, and Horspath, runners-up in the Cherwell League, would be promoted to Divison 2 West.

This would lead to a raft of promotions in the Cherwell, which feeds into the HCPL.

At least two of the four Hertfordshire clubs in HCPL Division 1 are believed to be against a breakaway.

“This is something we must resolve,” said Hertfordshire League chairman Tony Johnstone.

“There is a strong body of opinion that games in the Home Counties are much too long and two expensive, what with the travelling and the cost of providing lunches.”

HCPL chairman Ray Wood was unavailable to comment.