Plans for the Spenser Wilson Halifax League to include Huddersfield Central League clubs in 2017 remain on track after a counter-offer from the Drakes Huddersfield League.
Talks between Halifax League officials and representatives of the ailing 16-team Central League have been going on for some time.
However, Halifax League chairman Anthony Briggs told club representatives at last night’s July meeting that the Drakes League had made an “11th hour” offer to the Central League.
The Huddersfield League had rebuffed two previous approaches from the Central League but had then come in with an offer of accommodating Central League clubs in an Alliance division, which would not have promotion to the rest of the league.
Briggs said the Central League’s management had backed the Halifax League offer and their clubs had voted narrowly in favour in the last few days.
Briggs revealed that before the vote three Huddersfield Central League clubs had resigned and applied to join the Halifax League independently, in case the vote went against them.
The final decision on whether the Central League teams are incorporated into the Halifax League, as part of the new Yorkshire pyramid structure, will rest with the 30 current member clubs.
Briggs said three regional workshops would be set up to discuss the way ahead for an expanded league.
It would still be called the Spenser Wilson Halifax League with the existing rules, although some Central League rules might be moved across if that was considered advantageous.
The majority of the Central League’s funds would be transferred and their 25 umpires would become part of a new set-up.
Briggs appealed for the member clubs to back the proposals which he said had the full backing and support of the YCB.
Briggs also gave details of the background to the talks.
“The Huddersfield Central League is in danger of imminent collapse. It currently has 16 teams but is losing another two to the South Yorkshire League next year,” he said.
“It used to have seven divisions and is now down to three.”
Briggs said that talks he and fellow official Paul Whiteley had held with Jack Carson and Chris Jones had been honest, open and positive.
“The Huddersfield Central League are realistic about their position and their number one concern is their clubs.”
Briggs said there were three main areas to address: the possibility of travelling longer distances for matches, the fact that some Central League clubs only had one team and that the Halifax League had robust entry requirements.
He said the plan was to have a Premier Division of 12 teams, a middle section of 12 and then two conferences with broadly the currently Central League teams in one and existing Halifax League teams in the other.
Briggs said officials were looking at two options for clubs with one team. They might play in either the Sunday League or one of the Conference sections on a Saturday.
Clubs would have to fulfil certain criteria to be able to move up from the Conferences.