Cricket: Bradford League and Central Yorkshire League set for merger

Hanging Heaton v Lightcliffe Bradford League Priestley Cup Final at Farsley
James Stansfield of Hanging HeatonHanging Heaton v Lightcliffe Bradford League Priestley Cup Final at Farsley
James Stansfield of Hanging Heaton
Hanging Heaton v Lightcliffe Bradford League Priestley Cup Final at Farsley James Stansfield of Hanging Heaton
The Bradford and Central Yorkshire Cricket Leagues are on the verge of merging in one of the most radical shake ups local league cricket has seen.

In a joint proposal from the two organisations the leagues would enter a partnership next season ahead of a full merger in 2017.

The new structure would be known as the Bradford Premier League and would consist of a Premier Division, two Championships and two Conferences.

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The Premier Division would consist of clubs who would ordinarily make up Bradford League Division One in 2016, with two clubs winning promotion and two being relegated at the end of this season.

Clubs in the top flight must have Clubmark status and an active junior section (with minimum Under-11s, Under-13s and Under-15s age groups) and meed to meet ECB Premier League grounds and facilities criteria.

Two Championship divisions will be regionally aligned playing a 22 game season, with the winner of each Championship promoted from the end of 2016.

These sections will consist of the remaining Bradford League clubs, plus five clubs from the current Central Yorkshire League Premier Division, together with Birstall and Methley, who have already been accepted into the Bradford League for 2016.

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Bradford League clubs can not be relegated from this division unless they request to do so or standards fall below current requirements, which will be reviewed after the first five years.

Below the Championships will be Conference Division One and Division Two, which will be an all amateur competition with no overseas players allowed.

Clubs of both leagues were told the news in a statement sent out on Friday.

The Premier League and Championships will be played under current Bradford League rules for 2016 and the Conferences under current CYCL rules, with the rules to be consolidated after the full merger.

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Premier and Championship clubs will play for the Priestley Cup (first teams) and Priestley Shield (second teams), while Conference teams will play for the Jack Hampshire Cup (first teams) and Wheatley Cup (second teams), while it is also intended to run a Twenty20 competition.

Bradford League chairman David Young said: “My belief is that this proposal presents a way forward for cricket in West Yorkshire with the new enlarged Bradford League at the forefront.

“During my travels around the grounds it has become clear that expanding our divisions to more clubs is not universally popular, with a number of clubs worried about additional Sunday games as it becomes increasingly difficult to put out two teams on a Sunday.

“Some clubs have expressed a desire to play amateur only cricket with no overseas players.

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“The proposal answers many of the concerns protecting the interests of all current Bradford League clubs, including the new clubs Birstall and Methley who have already been accepted into the league.

“After many months working closely with my colleague Mark Heald, Chairman of the All Rounder Central Yorkshire League we have put together this proposal which I urge clubsto discuss and approve.”

Mr Heald added: “Since discussions have begun, many of us involved in the process have been concerned about the strength of the remaining CYCL divisions and for the future of the CYCL itself.

“We are now entering a period of consultation and intend to implement this structure for season 2016, but we are happy to answer any questions or concerns that our club may have.”

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Second team cricket would mirror that of the first teams, although Conference matches may consist of fewer overs.

The Central Yorkshire League management board are set to endorse the merger to go ahead, while the Bradford League will consult clubs and an extraordinary general meeting will be held on August 27 for them to give it the green light.