THE Ribblesdale League could be on the verge of the biggest structure change in its history as the competition looks to expand by creating two Senior Divisions with promotion and relegation.
The league, which currently boasts a 14-team Senior Division and three further divisions made up mainly of second and third elevens, is actively looking to expand with the executive committee ready to listen to any clubs who may want to move into the competition.
Clubs would have to meet ground criteria and if there is enough interest shown, the league could well feature the extra clubs by 2013.
In recent years Ghyll, Burnley Grammar School Old Boys and Blackburn Northern have left the league, which celebrates its 120th anniversary next season, but chiefs are keen to expand and strengthen their position in North West cricketing circles.
Interested clubs would have to have their own grounds and if six teams were to be accepted the league would ideally run with two divisions of 10 senior teams.
Any plans are very much at the formative stage at the moment but if they were to attract the extra teams, their placings in either the First or Second Division would likely be decided after a mid-season split.
The last team to win a place in the Senior League was Salesbury, who were voted into the top division at the expense of Blackburn Northern after years of success in the junior sections, and their skipper Jason Rawson is cautious over the plans.
“Overall it is a good move I think,” said Rawson. “But we would have to make sure it just wasn’t a case of making up the numbers.
“Any decision like that would have to be well thought through and considered – but on paper it’s a decent idea.”
The league annual general meeting also voted in the leg side wide rule and from next season clubs whose professional does not arrive in time for the start of the season will not be allowed to engage a sub pro after the first four games.
In recent seasons several clubs have had problems with their professionals arriving on time – and also with them returning home early.
That is, of course, a problem across several leagues – but the decision by Ribblesdale League chiefs sends out a firm message to clubs and players that they must show respect to the competition and their contract.
The new season will also see the introduction of the leg side wide rule in league and cup matches.
Several other leagues, including the Lancashire League, implemented the professional cricket standard rule in past seasons and now clubs voted that change in at the league annual general meeting.
Also at the AGM, four long-serving officials were made life members of the league for their years of service.
Between them the quartet have officiated in the league for more than a century.
League chairman Brian Woodhead, treasurer and vice-president Derek Birchall, umpires’ secretary Fred Booth and auditor Terry Humphrey were all honoured during the meeting.