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Update from BAFA operations

Thursday, October 18, 2018

As part of the planning process for the 2019 season BAFA undertook a consultation exercise to explore the feasibility of a reduced top-tier.

As part of the planning process for the 2019 season BAFA undertook a consultation exercise with the 12 Premier teams to explore the feasibility of a reduced (10 team) top tier which would provide two cross-conference games (North v South) for each team.

The reasoning for this consultation was we felt it would have created more competitive games in the schedule. The benefit of this is that with less blowout results it would a make the league more commercially attractive to potential sponsors and create a better product for spectators. In addition to this we would aim to to counter any schedule imbalance with an additional playoff place in both North and South.

The Division one play off structure would have ended at the Regional Final stage and the Regional Champions in Division 1 would have played the 5th placed teams in the top tier for Promotion/Relegation.

With every proposed change to the sport, there are always challenges that need to be addressed. The main downside to this change meant that the two 5th placed Premier teams from last year would be relegated and that each team in the new 10 team structure would have one longer than normal away trip.

The feedback from the teams was mixed with some accepting the idea of the new structure and others expressing concerns. Some of the concerns we received were:

- Additional away trip costs
- F
airness of the additional relegations
- Balance of the Schedule
- The additional play off game

- Speculative benefits of the change

A number of teams suggested that this change should be deferred until 2020 to allow teams to go into the 2019 competition knowing they would be at risk of relegation if they finished 5th in their division.

Having listened to the feedback from the consultation process BAFA have decided not to make any changes to the competition structure for 2019.

We will continue to talk to the teams about potential to increase competition in the top tier but no decision has been taken to make the change in 2020, therefore the Division 1 play off structure will remain as it is for 2019.

Steve Rains Operations Director said: “As these changes impact our members in a significant way, we felt it was essential to get their views on the suggested changes. We fully appreciate the thoughts on fairness towards Edinburgh and Farnham - it would have been tough on them but it would not have been a change without precedent. The more pressing issue was that one longer away trip or an additional play off game is currently beyond the financial capability of some of our leading teams - on that basis we felt we could not go ahead and that the delay until 2020 is not a viable option unless circumstances change. What this illustrates is that while there is a call for more competitive games, finding the solution, even through a relatively minor change, is not going to be easy. We will continue to consult and work with the clubs to see how we can find a viable solution to some of these challenges going forward."

In line with the promise made at the AGM work is close to complete on both alignments and the provisional schedule. There will be some minor adjustments to alignments in lower Divisions to account for geography following the promotions and relegations and the introduction of any new teams who make it through the Associate Process.

Teams are reminded that to be included in the provisional schedule they must re-register by the November 1 deadline.


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