Since the League was suspended by Lockdown 2.0, several surveys and meetings have been completed and attended as England Hockey (EH) have sought the input of clubs as to how they should try and complete the League this season. It should be noted that all discussions took place before the current restrictions came into force, although this hasn’t really changed the options under consideration.
In summary, the options under consideration are below but a few relevant points first:
- All teams have had the option to withdraw from the League without penalty, and their playing record will be expunged for any clubs choosing to do so.
- The majority of clubs have supported EH’s proposal that the League (excluding playoffs) will be completed by the first weekend of May.
- There will be no relegation from any division or conference. With the League expanding to four conferences next season, the only division to actually increase numbers will be the Premier going to 12 clubs.
- Promotion to the Prem will be decided by a playoff between the winners of Division One South and Division One North, one club being promoted.
- Promotion to Division One will be decided by a playoff between the winners of the East, West and North Conferences, one club being promoted.
There are basically two options under consideration; firstly, that each team just plays each other once. This is the simplest and quickest requiring the least matches. For the M1s and L1s, this only requires three more matches to be played, although I believe some clubs in the north still have six matches to play.
The second option is that after every club has played each other once, the top five clubs then play each other a second time. This clearly requires a not insignificant number of further matches, but is the preferred option.
Given the fixed end date, it’s possible to work back and see when the leagues will have to resume by presuming no clubs chose to withdraw. Doing so, and with the current Covid position, I would suggest the first option is now the most likely to happen, although it is entirely foreseeable that the league will not be completed this season.