Upcoming changes to the league structure

** Fairly long post **

This year as we have come away from lockdowns and limited competitions, it has been great to get out onto the greens again and meet new and old friends again.
However, the number of players has reduced fairly dramatically and we have lost some clubs this year as a result and are at risk of losing some more teams if we simply maintain the status quo.
There are a number of factors to this, the number of games, cost of fuel for travel, players aging, modern work patterns are a few in a long list.

The following line under Rule 1(b) of the Rules Governing League Championships means as League Secretary, I can make adjustments to ensure the league is a viable and competitive championship.

“To maintain the integrity of the League Championships structure as outlined in rule 1(a) the Honorary League Secretary, with the approval of the General Purposes Committee, may adjust the number of teams to be promoted or relegated.
Clubs will be made aware of any possible change as early in the season as possible.”

Hopefully you will all have seen from the league tables that we currently have 9, 10, 10, 9 and 6 teams spread across the 5 divisions.
Currently Division 5 is not really viable as teams have dropped out and some of the teams who are left, are struggling to put teams out for every game, relying more and more on ladies to fulfil fixtures as well as veterans players having to play 4 or 5 games per week too.
Ladies playing in our league is not a bad thing in itself, in fact, it has been, in my opinion, a very positive step forward, but ladies have their own commitments in the NIWPGL to fulfil and adding other midweek games may be a step too far for some.

Promotion and relegation should be obvious from the league tables for this season, but I will explain here.

Divisions 1,2 & 3 will only have 1 team relegated.
Divisions 1,2 & 3 will have 2 teams promoted.

In 2023 – Divisions 1,2 & 3 will have 10 teams.

Divisions 4 & 5 is a different story. Much depends on the entries for the 2023 season. If we get some new teams, maybe clubs with a second team or third or fourth teams, then we may be able to continue with 5 divisions.
If not, we will have to merge them and do away with Home & Away games for a season here.

Last year, we gave clubs the option to join a separate 12 player division. Only 6 entries came in for it. Since then we have had nearly 10 scratched games so far. Mostly due to player unavailability.
Most teams I have spoken to have said if they were in a 12-player division the game would not have been conceded. My aim is to ensure that leagues are decided on the greens and not in rulebooks or committee rooms.
If we keep Division 5 next year, I am proposing that it will be a 12-player division as outlined in Rule 1(c) and teams in the higher divisions who are finding it tough to put out teams every week have the option to move to this division.

For 2024 – Divisions 1 – 4 will be made up of 8 teams.

The divisions being decided with a cut off line at every 8 teams and the rest forming the 12-player Division 5.

The benefit of reducing the divisions to 8 is freeing up a number dates to move around PGL Cup games as well as reducing the number of Tuesday night games follwoing the IBA Cup Saturdays.
Some will say that better players will gravitate towards the 8 Division 1 teams, (a) that happens anyway, (b) they still only have 16 places on their teams and competitive players don’t want to be sitting watching too often.

The benefit of the 12-player division is that should maximise the number of games being completed, it will reduce the strain on players who play in multiple competitions.

Attached to this post is a proposed calendar for the 2024 season.

Please let me know any feedback, positive or negative, it’s all good, even if it is just a spelling mistake above.
Also, please turn up to AGM’s and ensure your reps go to management committee meetings to make your voices heard.

There is also an update coming up around the Senior Cup for next year too.. Stay tuned…


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