THE Lancashire Cricket Board have unveiled two proposals on restructuring the sport in East Lancashire which could see the Northern League, Lancashire League, Ribblesdale League and Palace Shield merge into one structure.

The plans, which have come about after the Lancashire League announced its intention to expand by 10 clubs for the 2017 season, were put to the leagues at a meeting on Wednesday night.


Proposal one would see the Lancashire League and Northern league merge to form one division for the 2017 season with clubs playing each other once.
The Ribblesdale League and the Palace Shield would retain their current structure.

The final placings between the newly-created Lancashire and Northern League would form the top two divisions for 2018 with divisions three and four made up of Ribblesdale League and Palace Shield clubs.

Proposal two would see all four leagues remain as they are for the 2017 season with the final places determining the structure for the 2018 season.

Division one would be made up of the top placed teams from the Lancashire League and the Northern League with the next batch of clubs from those two leagues forming division two.

Division three would include any remaining Lancashire and Northern League sides along with the leading Ribblesdale League teams.

Division four would incorporate only Ribblesdale League sides with the lowest place sides from that competition going into division five alongside the leading Palace Shield sides.
That would leave the remaining Palace Shield clubs to form division six.
Under this proposal a system would be created to allow sides from divisions one and two to play each other once to ensure local derbies are retained. The same system would apply for divisions three and four and also for five and six.

Second team cricket would remain at a local level under both proposals.
LCB Managing Director Bobby Denning said in a statement: "Both of the proposals now need to be discussed and agreed at local level, along with all necessary detail. This will be supported and facilitated at the outset by the LCB. 

"We are pleased to be able to make headline recommendations, particularly when both proposals at this stage, meet what the majority want. 

"We totally support all leagues and their clubs wishes for change and whilst the above proposals can only be headlines at this stage, I sincerely hope the cricket network sees this as a positive step by the LCB and the league execs to produce a structure that everyone wants. 

"There will need to be compromise and there will be a few sensitive issues and decisions to be made. 

"Everyone has listened to the clubs, the supported proposals reinforce this and this is now something that can be pursued. 

"It's a positive development for not just the short term, but equally, if not more importantly, the longer term success of league cricket in the area. 

"It allows clubs to play at the appropriate level at any given time, allowing for clubs to aspire to be as good as they want to be, if they are not already."