Birmingham League Restructure

The Structure of League Cricket in the West Midlands

Listed below are notes/observations taken by Peter Jones (Chairman) and Tony Cox (BDPCL representative) at a meeting held at Worcester County Cricket Club on Wednesday 17th January 2018.

Despite a vote of all BDPCL Clubs last year which retained the existing League structure there has remained a degree of unease that change was needed to improve the standard of play, facilities and long term sustainability of cricket and cricket clubs within the West Midlands. As a result a new initiative around restructure has emerged primarily supoorted by Management Board Members, County representatives and ECB officials. An ECB driven report, coordinated by Richard Cox, has emerged recommending the repositioning of 1st XI clubs from Divisions 2 and 3, and all 2nd XI teams across the Divisions, back into the four County Leagues of Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire. In his presentation RC mentioned feedback about poor quality of grounds/pitches and standard of play at Division 2 and below. He highlighted the struggles of 2nd teams in terms of excessive travel, expense and player availability. He gave a message of ‘need for change’ before direct intervention/imposition by the ECB – potential blueprint to be produced in the near future by the ECB on all premier leagues across England and Wales. He did mention and briefly presented some other options that had been considered by the Management Board, but was not keen to explore possibilities beyond the proposed Option 1 which had already been endorsed by BDPCL’s Management Board and the four Counties. He put extra emphasis on making the Play-Off proposals a fair and competitive process. Awarding achievement on a meritocratic basis was seen as the key.


Question and Answer Session

TC – If these significant structural changes were not implemented by the BDPCL following a vote of members would the ECB take action to impose an option on the Birmingham League.  After some prevarication Richard Cox said in his opinion the ECB would put forward their own “blueprint” for cricket in the West Midlands.  If the BDPCL did not change, and there was a general acceptance based upon his consultation that change was needed there was also a risk that the ECB would remove it’s affiliation from the BDPCL. There was a long debate around ground facility standards/requirements, general well being and health of member clubs (accreditation, financial, management).

There was real nervousness over the merits and application of the play-off proposals. However the main concern was how the proposal in relation to the regionalisation of the 2XI teams would work in practice.  Although there was general consensus on the proposals to absorb all 2nd XI teams back into the County Leagues on a meritocratic basis, there was general disquiet that at this stage County Boards were not prepared to release examples of ‘dummy systems’ Clubs wanted transparency and reassurance that they would be treated fairly and not placed into inappropriate levels of competition/standards. The management board were reluctant to accede to this request.  It was clear that the finer details of any of the Options proposed had not been fully worked through yet which is of concern as a vote in relation to Option 1 may be tabled as part of an EGM in March/April 2018.

Pershore CC wished to explore the previously presented Option 2, which was the regionalisation of the BDPCL into a North Midlands and South Midlands, because they considered it had serious merit – more opportunity (36 clubs retained, less travel and no requirement for play-offs – 2 clubs relegated from each of the North and South Divisions and 4 promoted from the County Leagues). This drew a level of support from a number of clubs.

PGJ stressed we came with an open mind about the reports proposals but feel that option 2 needs to be properly explored. He asked for information on the process to include an amendment to Option I in the form of Option 2. Nick Archer (General Manager) stated one club to propose, one to second and eight clubs to support. Deadline of 5th February and before SGM. (Surely there are a number of clubs especially from divisions 2 and 3 who will be interested to support the motion? It also means there is something for everyone to play for in 2018).

David Manning (Chairman BDPCL) challenging statement – ‘we need to give a bit to get a bit’ – requires some reflection. He also said that the proposal was for the greater good of cricket in the region and some of the proposals would have to be taken on trust.

The key question for FCC members is:  Is the recommendation to cull Divisions 2 and 3 in FCC’s best interest? Based on the new structure (Option 1) if the 1st Team do not finish the 2018 season in the top two places then FCC will return to the Staffordshire Club Championship – most likely to  the Premier Division alongside many of the Staffs based Clubs currently operating in Division 2 and 3 of BDPCL. As stated before we are not sure exactly where our 2nd XI will be repositioned in the SCC’s structure but there has been a promise of fairness on meritocratic terms. The positioning will be subject to review by a panel.

As Club Chairman, I think about the incredible progress we have made in recent years since our relocation from Taunton Ave – maintaining BDPCL status, enhancing ground and buildings, social/changing facilities, equipment, landscaping etc, investing in out highly successful youth/junior section under Chris Guest’s leadership. Whatever happens in the near future we will continue to strive to achieve the best performance and standards both on and off the cricket field.

There are a number of issues for you as cricket members to consider:

  • Do you believe Option 1 will benefit and improve cricket across the Midlands region if adopted by the BDPCL?
  • What are your thoughts on a play-off based promotion system to the elite 2 Divisions of the BDCPL, where the champions from the Shropshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, and Staffordshire Leagues compete for promotion?
  • How do you believe the proposals will impact upon Youth Development at FCC? Based upon an assertion from Richard Cox, ECB that the first class counties already adopt a dotted red line to the top two Birmingham League divisions for the purpose of placing their players, will this mean that youth players will be advised to move clubs at a certain stage of their career for their development.
  • Do you believe that Option 1 will lessen the amount of paid players at cricket clubs?
  • Do you believe that Option 1 will improve ground facilities across the League structure?
  • Do you support the “regionalisation of 2nd XI cricket?
  • Have you sufficient information about these proposals?
  • Do you believe that the BDPCL have carried out sufficient consultation on these proposals

This matter will be an agenda item at Fordhouses AGM on the 5th February 2018 to allow you as members to express your views to the Management Committee. It is important that you contribute as these are significant proposals that will affect the future of cricket at FCC.

All views and opinions are welcome.

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