The Ribblesdale Cricket League and the Bolton Cricket League will merge for the 2023 season.

Clubs in the leagues have recently voted in favour of the plans and almost four years after a brief discussion in the car park at Leigh Cricket Club following a Lancashire Cricket Foundation meeting, the two leagues will now become one.

After next season, the first teams will split into two divisions going forward.

Bill Slinger, chairman of the Thatcher’s Cider Ribblesdale League, added: “The clubs, after a period of consultation and consideration, voted by overwhelming majority to join with the Bolton League.

“This is an opportunity to create a strong and competitive league, with promotion and relegation which enables clubs to have competitive fixtures throughout the season.

“Although it will increase the travel for some clubs, it is hoped this will be outweighed by the opportunity to play new teams and new grounds and secure the future of clubs in the combined league.

“The work to produce the rules and protocols will take place over the winter period.

“In the longer term, the combined league may look to take the route of the neighbouring leagues - the Lancashire League and Greater Manchester Cricket League - in seeking Premier League status.”

Bolton League secretary Ray Taylor said: “While we may not have the teams to match those at the top of the Liverpool Competition, we aim to be one of the most competitive leagues in the county.

“In 2017, when the Bolton League were looking to expand to 24 clubs, we set a time limit on the travelling between grounds.

“All the Ribblesdale grounds, with one exception, are within the time limit.”