Tolchards Devon League clubs vote in favour of single-tier competition

DEVON League clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of an all-through league at an extraordinary meeting in Exeter before the season started.

League managers had tried before to scrap the separate first and second team competitions and merge them into a single league. Both attempts failed by a large margin.

An amended proposal based heavily on regionalisation was put before clubs and sailed through with no opposition on the night.

The main proposal put to clubs was: “From the 2018 season the Devon Cricket League becomes a single tier structure – (all through league) in line with the (published) structure plan. 

“Promotion and relegation will take place on the basis of two teams being promoted and two teams being relegated from each division.”

“There were 50 clubs in favour of this proposal and 14 against,” said league secretary Ed Leverton.

“The proposal therefore received the required two-thirds majority.”

As the new structure will be put in place for 2018, placings at the end of the season just about to start will decide where teams will be in the new league.

Part of that process is making space for three 2nd XIs to enter what are now the C Division East and C Division West.

To do that needed a rule change, which was also passed without comment and with a 50-8 vote in favour.

“For two seasons only - 2018 and 2019 - there will be three teams promoted and three teams relegated from the C Divisions and below,” said Leverton.

“The league will now commence the process of looking at any changes that will need to be made to the constitution and playing regulations. 

“These will be circulated to clubs with a view to their being discussed at both the club chairmen’s and end-of-season divisional meetings in 2017.”

Clubs in the A and B Divisions are going to be unaffected by the changes for a couple of years as it will take time for 2nd XIs coming in at level four to rise through the divisions.

The process will start with three current Premier Division 2nd XIs being placed in both the existing, regional C Divisions for 2018. Two more will go into the D Divisions.

There will be no promotion in 2017 for current D Division teams. Anyone finishing below third in a D Division will become founder members of the new East and West E Divisions.

Teams from the A and B Divisions of the second team competition will be fed into the E Divisions too. The merger process will continue until 15 divisions have been created.

The Devon League was formed in 1972 as a single-division competition for 1st XI teams only.

A 2nd XI competition was added in 1976. Played as a merit table, it was won by Chudleigh with a win ratio of 90.4 per cent.

The league added a second 1st XI division for 1978 and for 1979 there were two 2nd XI divisions. The merit table was replaced by a conventional, home-and-away league format.

As the league expanded at 1st XI level, the 2nd XI competition stayed unaltered until 1983 when a third division was added.

Second team cricket slowly caught up, adding a fourth division in 1989. A fifth division finally arrived in 1997. The next major change was from 2001 when East and West 2nd XIs were introduced following the merger with the old East Devon League.