Fixture Secretary’s report to the 2024 MSBL AGM
Good evening everybody. I’ll swiftly cover the past season and then go on to talk about 2024.
2023 all went pretty well, despite some poor weather at times. Very few fines were imposed for rule transgressions. Congratulations to all the clubs that did well and commiserations to those that didn’t.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the following:
- My fellow league officers for continuing to ensure that the league runs smoothly.
- Mike Beckett for his help and support in maintaining his superb Results Service. He had to invest in a new server last year in order to cope with the sheer number of leagues that use the system. This did cause a few issues because we were moved to the new one but they were soon resolved.
- All the club captains and secretaries who I’ve corresponded with over the last year. That’s over 800 emails received and over 400 sent plus a few texts and Whatsapp messages.
Looking ahead to 2024 then, a lot of what I’m going to discuss regarding the division structures for the forthcoming season is speculation because there are still a number of points to be resolved and bear in mind that I’d written this report before a number of points were settled in the last 24 hours:
- Horsehay confirmed the withdrawal of their Friday A team and asked to join the Dennis Lewis Thursday division,
- Shifnal confirmed their B team withdrawal from the Dennis Lewis.
- Childs Ercall confirmed that they may like to enter a Monday team.
The remaining points are…
- Which new teams are confirmed and accepted into the league. We’ve had requests from:
- Chelmarsh, Edgmond, Childs Ercall and Newport to enter new Monday teams.
- Meole Brace, SJB, Horsehay and possibly a second team from Prince of Wales Hotel to enter teams in the Dennis Lewis Thursday division.
- Second teams from both Edgmond and Albrighton to enter the Afternoon division.
- Whether any teams drop out. I’ve heard that there are doubts about:
- Bridgnorth D in division 5.
- Chelmarsh in the afternoon division.
- Anything else we won’t know about until the deadline of the March Executive meeting – now 48 hours before it as the rule change was agreed later on the AGM agenda.
Here are my thoughts on the different divisions…
Without Horsehay A, we’ll have 36 on a Friday, giving us a straightforward 12/12/12. It was 12/12/13 last year and can be achieved by only relegating the bottom team from divisions 1 & 2 and promoting the top two teams from divisions 2 & 3. Alternatively, we could relegate two and promote three.
The most probable start date would be 12th April (Prem start on the 5th), finishing on 13th September as Rob has reserved 10th May for the Merit qualifiers. We could possibly have the Merit finals on another Friday if Rob preferred and finish on 20th September.
Four new teams gives us 37 (or 36 if Bridgnorth lose their D team). 36 is straightforward 12/12/12 (it was 11/11/11 last year) and fits in well with starting on 15th April, finishing on 30th September avoiding the three bank holidays (6th & 27th May and 26th August)
If we have 37, we‘ll have to rethink – any suggestions welcome.
Two new teams will bring us up to 9 which requires four more fixture dates than last year when we had 7. The extra four fixtures puts more Thursdays in conflict with the Seniors League who use most weeks in July & August for their competitions. Last year we used 12 Thursdays and two Tuesdays and the season ended in mid July. This year, we’d need to use several more Tuesdays, depending on the start date which is negotiable. Earliest start would be 4th April but it could be later although that would involve more Tuesdays. With no missed weeks, the number of Tuesdays required depending on the start date would be as follows:
- Start Date Thursdays Finish Date
- 4th April 6 Tue 30th July
- 11th April 7 Tue 6th August
- 18th April 8 Tue 13th August
- 25th April 8 Thu 22nd August
It would also be possible to miss one or more weeks where Tuesdays would otherwise be required and extend the season into September. I’m open to suggestions from the clubs involved.
However, if Chelmarsh drop out you can ignore most of the above although I’m still open to suggestions as to when clubs would prefer to start.
Dennis Lewis Thursday
If all 4 new teams are accepted, we’ll have 16 with Shifnal B dropping out. 16 teams require 30 match dates, and there are only 26 Thursdays available between April and September.
We could accommodate a division of 16 by using 4 other days – Wednesdays? but Rob Burroughs has proposed a solution which involves splitting the division into two and organising supplementary competitions to play after the end of the normal season. I’ll explain the outline of this now and perhaps Rob could elaborate if necessary.
Rob Burroughs Proposed Solution
As can be seen from the 2023 league table, there’s quite a gulf in the division. Splitting it he believes would increase the quality of the league in the top and give those mid table now something to fight for. So two divisions of 8 would mean 14 games. Followed by a cup competition so teams can play different ones again.
Four mini-leagues of 4, two from each division in each group. Possibly using the rankings from the league or a draw before. Play each other home and away so 6 more games.Top two from each group go to a quarter final which can be at a neutral green. Bottom two go into a consolation again at neutral greens. So that would mean 21 games at least for each team. Then you would have a semi and a final, the final at a club with 2 greens (and possibly the semis!)
So you would use 23 Thursdays. And then use two for the Thursday night merit and have one spare for any postponements. Or maybe a playoff between third top and third bottom.
At the end of last season, the resurrection of the Saturday division was mentioned. Is there enough interest from clubs to do so?
So there you have it. You’ll appreciate that I’m going to be busy just before, during and after the March Executive meeting and there are decisions that will have to be taken then.
Therefore, I’d appreciate any more updates from clubs regarding new teams, teams dropping out, green changes, special requests and potential clashes with leagues other than the Premier, sooner rather than later.
As in previous years, if I hear nothing from a club, I’ll assume that everything will be the same as last year but confirmation as soon as clubs are aware of their circumstances will help me.
You can help me to help you!