THE Lancashire Cricket Board (LCB) insist that proposals they will present on the future of East Lancashire cricket will be supported by the Lancashire League, Ribblesdale League and Northern League.

The LCB refused to back the original Lancashire League expansion plan, put forward earlier this year, but believe their proposals - which will be shared with executives from the three leagues at a meeting on Wednesday - will meet the needs of all concerned.

The Lancashire League had originally unveiled plans to expand the 14-team league to 24 teams for 2017 before introducing a two-tier promotion and relegation system from 2018.

A total of 18 clubs applied to join including 10 Northern League clubs, seven Ribblesdale League sides and Palace Shield outfit Garstang. 

But, following concerns raised by the Ribblesdale and Northern Leagues - both of which would face an uncertain future if teams leave en masse - the LCB intervened and last month the plans were put on hold while consultation with club officials and players in the four leagues involved took place.

Those discussions have now been completed and the LCB and the English Cricket Board confirmed they do not support the original expansion plan of the Lancashire League. The LCB have instead devised alternative proposals which will be put forward at Wednesday’s meeting.

What those exact proposals are, and how clubs would be allocated into divisions, remain unclear with LCB Managing Director Bobby Denning only confirming that the ideal structure would see one countywide division with several feeder leagues below.

He said: “While we are not supporting the current expansion plan we are supportive of the Lancashire League principles of expanding and we hope that our proposals will be backed by all three leagues.

“It is a great opportunity to bring in a system which, further down the line, could see one county-wide league with the best teams from the Lancashire area, the Bolton area, the Greater Manchester area and the Liverpool Competition playing in it.”

Despite the LCB refusing to back their original proposal, Lancashire League officials, who will attend next week’s meeting, are continuing to interview interested clubs in line with their initial expansion plan.

Lancashire League officials declined to comment further on the LCB statement which read: “The LCB and ECB do not support the expansion of the Lancashire League (the current expansion plan).

“The LCB recommends that the four leagues agree to work together to decide on a new structure and in doing so, this will be supported by the LCB and ECB.

“Various proposals/models have been put forward and the LCB/ECB will share, guide, facilitate discussions to reach an agreement across the leagues, so that the leagues can move forward.

“The proposals put forward in principle (not including the current Lancashire League expansion plan) receive the support of the LCB and ECB based on the consultation process. 

“Our belief is that these meet the needs of what each league and their clubs ultimately want, based on the feedback we received during the consultation and what we have been advised by the execs of the leagues.

“The various proposals ultimately see clubs across the Lancashire League, Northern League and Ribblesdale League playing in a structure with promotion and relegation between divisions and we will now meet with the leagues to agree how clubs can be placed along with all the necessary detail to be agreed, including second team cricket etc. 

“The Palace Shield have requested that they are involved with discussions from the outset, albeit that the consultation undertaken with the Lancashire League, Northern League and Ribblesdale League clubs, has not yet taken place with the Palace Shield clubs.

“The LCB’s long term vision for league cricket in the county is to see one division that sits above all the leagues across the county, with promotion from the local league structures into the county-wide division. 

“With changes being made in the Greater Manchester area and the already well established structure in the Merseyside area,  there is an opportunity to create something new in the Lancashire area.”