FIRST and second teams could play each other in the Aire-Wharfe League, as happens in the Craven League, if a radical restructure is voted through to help clubs survive difficult times.

Instead of having three divisions for first teams and three separate divisions for second teams, the league’s management committee proposed at their Council Meeting at Otley RUFC to have six divisions, with promotion and relegation throughout.

New clubs would still have to enter with two teams, although existing clubs can drop down to one team if they have to, but no club can have more than one team in a division.

The top three divisions will play 50 overs per innings and the bottom three divisions 45 overs per innings, although 40 overs per side was also considered for divisions Four to Six.

Steeton’s Hayden Tennant, who has been at the forefront in drafting the proposal, said: “Dave (secretary Alred) has often spoken of the difficulty in clubs getting two sides out on a Saturday.

“If we hadn’t done anything, we may only have half a league in ten years’ time.

“Examples are Silsden and Upper Wharfedale (who have both left the league), and this idea will give clubs more flexibility.”

He added: “The idea has come from conversations with clubs.

“It is not a perfect solution but it should ensure that we have a stronger league.

“The ideal is 36 clubs with six divisions of 12, but we could, for example, have three divisions of 12 and three of nine.

“I am happy to come to any club and talk about the potential restructure if they want me to.

“The top 16 clubs would enter the Waddilove Cup and the next 20 the Waddilove Shield (which will be a T20 competition), and the rest would be in the Birtwhistle Cup (which may be a T20).”

Alred said: “It is a starting block, and we are happy to consult with clubs in forums over the winter.”

This proposal was seconded and will now go forward to the league’s annual meeting, also at Otley RUFC, on Tuesday, November 28.