Leagues merger creates 108-team competition

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A merger between the South Yorkshire League (SYL) and South Yorkshire Cricket Alliance League has been given the green light.

SYL clubs voted in favour of welcoming former members of the Alliance League at their AGM last week.

The newly-expanded SYL will have 56 clubs, 108 teams and will be organised into nine divisions. The lower six divisions will split on a geographical basis (East and West).

Clubs will only be eligible to progress above Division Four if they meet all SYL criteria, including fielding at least two senior teams and running a junior section incorporating at least two teams.

A South Yorkshire League statement said: “The merger comes at the request of the Alliance which had been struggling to survive within the changing social and economic climate.

“Over the last few years, several smaller clubs have folded as players have drifted away from the game and facilities have deteriorated through cuts to councils’ parks and recreation budgets.

“It is hoped that the experience and resolve of the highly successful South Yorkshire League will help clubs raise standards and improve the structures needed to survive.

“Key to this is providing a positive playing experience with good facilities, high standards of umpiring and scoring and good player discipline.”

The new clubs will be given a ‘reasonable timeframe’ in which to meet the standard required for South Yorkshire League membership.

Clubs must have a minimum of two senior teams and a junior section with at least two teams.

Any club without this playing structure would not be allowed to progress above Division Four of the new nine division structure until standards were met.

SYL chairman Terry Bentham said: “We passionately believe we have a duty to our clubs but also have a duty to try and preserve the game in South Yorkshire.”