NCU reveals planned changes to league structures in 2019/2020

Lisburn got their Section One campaign off to a winning start against Cregagh on Saturday
Lisburn got their Section One campaign off to a winning start against Cregagh on Saturday

The NCU has informed clubs of the proposed changes it wants to make to senior league structures in the union over the next two years.

The governing body wants to return to a four-division format in 2019 after revealed the “overwhelming” feedback from clubs was that the three-division senior structure remains in place for one season only.

In a document circulated to clubs, the NCU outlined what proposals it will bring forward in the autumn.

It said: “It was felt appropriate at this stage to inform clubs of the impact of a proposal intended to be put forward by the Board at the 2018 AGM for the 2019 season – we want the clubs to know as clearly as possible what they are playing for in 2018!”

The changes are as follows: “Section 2 of the Senior League will consist of 8 teams (being the two bottom teams in Section 1 at the end of season 2018, and the teams placed 3rd to 8th inclusive in Section 2 at the end of season 2018) and Section 3 the remainder of the Senior League clubs not in the Premier League, Section 1 or Section 2.

“This is dependent upon there being a minimum of 6 teams in the new Section 3, otherwise the teams eligible for Sections 2 and 3 will remain in a single section.”

The NCU also revealed that there is “considerable support” in Section One for the reduction of the division from 10 to eight sides, with the length of the current 18-game season one factor, and the “effort to ensure a long-term viability of Section 3 being another”.

The Union believes introducing an eight-team Section One in 2019 would be “too soon” but intends to make the following rule changes at the 2018 AGM.

“In 2020, the Senior League will consist of 4 sections, the Premier League with 8 teams; Section 1 with 8 teams; Section 2 with 8 teams and Section 3 with the remaining teams, provided that there is a minimum of 6 teams in Section 3. From the end of season 2020, only the teams winning Sections 1 to 3 will be promoted and only those finishing bottom of the Premier League and Sections 1 and 2 will be relegated.

“In 2020, Section 1 will comprise the team finishing bottom of the Premier League and the teams placed 2nd to 8th in Section 1 at the end of season 2019. Section 2 will consist of the teams finishing 9th and 10th in Section 1 and the top 6 teams in Section 2 at the end of season 2019.

“If there are at least six more teams entered, Section 3 will consist of the teams finishing 7th and 8th in Section 2 at the end of season 2019 plus the remaining teams. There will therefore be no promotion from Section 2 or 3 at the end of season 2019.”