By Rod Gilmour
Bowdon men and Leicester City women, who were both in with a chance of promotion to the Premier Division, are in discussions with England Hockey over the decision to conclude the 2019/20 men’s and women’s league season as it stood, The Hockey Paper can reveal.
With one game remaining, Bowdon and Leicester could have finished top of their respective divisions in the Investec Division One North and were the highest-profile clubs to be affected by England Hockey’s ratification last month.
In a battle of the top two, Bowdon men were due to play University of Durham on the final day. Meanwhile Leicester women were level on points with Swansea heading into their final fixtures with regulations stating the league is decided on games won over goal difference. As per the table upon the season being curtailed, university sides Durham and Swansea were promoted to the top flight, the latter becoming the first Welsh side to reach England’s top tier.
Both Bowdon and Leicester are seeking clarification from the national governing body to explain the outcome in the appeal process, centred upon the league not being fully completed, with Leicester, the six-time women’s champions, believing the league rules to be “very clear”.
“We are exploring our options still and we are discussing the matter with England Hockey,” said Sarah Treanor, Leicester City’s vice president development.
How the teams finished in the Investec Division One North men and women:
“We aren’t the only club in this unenviable position and I would say that we are extremely disappointed that the NGB applied regulations written for a fully completed season to determine the outcomes for teams whose seasons were not completed in these unprecedented times.”
THP contacted Bowdon to confirm their stance in the appeal process but the club declined to comment on the matter.
However England Hockey told THP: “On 28 April the board formally approved the reconciliation of the 2019-20 league season. We have since been in discussion with Bowdon and Leicester City and will hold further informal discussions in the next couple of weeks.”
England Hockey had outlined in its reconciliation statement that it was not a “straightforward situation for the league in unprecedented circumstances.”
It added: “England Hockey, whilst recognising that not all parties will agree with the rulings, believes it has followed a robust process to reach the most appropriate outcomes that means teams and leagues can start planning for a resumption of our great sport which we of course all hope will be later this year.”
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