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  • 06/03/19
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Creating a Rival League - a good thing or not?

Clubs should be aware of the manoeuvres being orchestrated by our former secretary in setting up a rival league to the SBYL. This is all being done under the auspices of the Wycombe & South Bucks Minor League (W&SBML). He’s also contacted the majority of referees on our panel, inviting them to register with their league. Fortunately, the vast majority of them are loyal to our league and are declining the invitation.

Those who attended our sin bin presentation last month will recall the points we made after the presentation, some of which we repeat below:

• We believe strongly that there are no good reasons whatsoever for the formation of a rival league. Should they succeed in attracting a number of clubs to join, then there will be no winners. It will only dilute both leagues and restrict competition.

• We don’t see any merit in running entirely separate under 17s & under 18s leagues, as is the intention of the W&SBML. Our league has always operated a combined age group, ever since our inception in 1992. All youth team county cup competitions operate a combined age group, so why restrict competition by restricting games to the same age group? Furthermore, many teams have a mixture of U17/18s players in their squads.

• Any current SBYL U17s teams (who will of course be under 18s next season) will not be able to play against new under 17s teams, should your club decide to join this rival league. Again, this will inevitably result in reduced competition for these teams, i.e. far less teams to play against.

• Should the outcome be that both leagues end up with say 15-20 teams each next season, then it will be much, much harder to place teams in a division more suited to their present ability. Having 4 divisions, as we do now, allows us to match teams more closely according to their present ability.

• Will this rival league have sufficient neutral referees next season? We suspect not, based on the feedback we’ve received. Our league has achieved nearly 100% referee coverage this season.

We have made some of these points to the BBFA who also regard this as an unwelcome development. However, their hands are tied to a certain extent. We are also aware that the Chairman of the W&SBML remains firmly opposed to the expansion of their league. Therefore, we can only assume that our former secretary has an ulterior motive in seeking to drive a harmful wedge between our 2 leagues. This is a great shame since our 2 leagues have enjoyed a good relationship up until now and have happily co-existed for many years.

We hope that this note will help club officials to understand what’s at stake. We would encourage you to speak to your current under 16s manager(s) to allay any fears they may have about playing against some under 18s teams, should they join our league next season.

In conclusion, we hope that the above comments will help you to decide whether you want to remain in our well-run league next season. We also sincerely hope that once you’ve weighed-up the pros and cons, you will decide not to affiliate any of your youth team(s) with this rival league who seek to threaten our future existence.

Over the coming months, we will be working very hard to find more ways to attract and retain clubs next season. We are obviously in the hands of our current members and to a certain extent, our referees. Should some conclude that their interests would be best served by this rival league, then we will of course respect their decision.

An indication soon of your club’s intentions next season would be very helpful to us. If you have any concerns about the way we run our league now, please share them with us.

Thanks & best regards,
Anna, Chris, John, Kieran & Matt