IT WAS a close-run thing but the proposal for a new structure for the Aire-Wharfe League was passed at their annual meeting at Otley Rugby Club.

A switch to six linear divisions, with promotion and relegation throughout, was voted through 19-15.

This gives the league more flexibility in terms of who plays in what division.

However, no club will be allowed to have two teams in the same section, and the management committee will have the right to put teams into whichever division they see fit.

For example, if 2017 newcomers Saltaire had come into the league in 2019 and had their teams put in Divisions Five and Six, they might not have come into the league.

However, the winners and runners-up of the second-team competition's Division One last season (2017) will start in Division Four next season (2018).

Matches in Divisions One to Three will be 50 overs per side, while in Divisions Four to Six it will only be 45.

Any tweaking that is needed can be discussed at the 2018 League Council meeting next October.

Almost as close was the proposal regarding the restructure of the cups, which was passed 20-13.

The Waddilove Cup shall remain for the top 16 first XIs, based on the previous season's finishing positions, while all of the other first teams will take part in a Twenty20 competition.

However, entry to the Birtwhistle Cup for second teams, which will also be a Twenty20 event, is optional.

Among the proposals defeated were the introduction of the Duckworth, Lewis Stern method for rain-affected matches (19-14), the visitors electing to bowl first without the toss of a coin (30-4), restricting bowlers to a maximum of ten overs per innings (29-4), doing away with leg-side wides (22-11) and free hits following no-balls in league matches (25-9).

But these were the only five proposals to be defeated, with extraordinary declarations being passed 33-1.

This is to prevent a team from declaring, as happened in Wales for example, on 21-1 to prevent the opposition from gathering enough bonus points to win the league.

While this is not against the laws of cricket, it most definitely is against the Spirit of Cricket, and the offending team could be charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the management committee and possibly have points deducted.

Meanwhile, the umpires have been given leeway regarding dangerous or unfair non-pitching deliveries, with the second warning remaining as a final one, rather than the first.

This was passed 30-3, while inter-club loan moves will now not only apply to under-19s but be open-aged (passed 31-3), although loans from a higher club to a lower club will come under scrutiny.

However, under-19 players can also still be loaned out to clubs in other leagues.