Regional leagues have been left with the difficult task of finalising promotion with minimal games played this season – despite England Hockey stopping its national league as null and void.
England Hockey ended the 2020/21 national league season on Friday with no promotions or relegations.
However with a nationwide league restructure set for the 2021/22 season and the need to add a fourth EHL conference division – with 10 teams made up of two qualifiers from each of the five regional leagues – those leagues have been forced to decide the outcomes of their Premier Divisions.
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The West’s Verde Recreo Hockey League issued their decision over the weekend, with Exeter University ‘A’ (relegated from national league at the end of the 2019/20 season) and Clifton Robinsons (runners-up in the VRHL Premiership at the end of the 2019/20 season) promoted to the national league.
“Our decision is in accordance with EH guidance for concluding the season without being able to have a play off,” VRHL hon secretary Jon Watts said in a statement.
“I know the other six teams who had hoped to play for these two places will be very disappointed but we feel this is the best decision for player safety and to allow clubs to prepare for next season.”
It follows a similar outcome made by the West Clubs Women’s Hockey League, with some clubs not even starting their season.
England Hockey’s own decision came before the government allowed a return to play on Monday.
However with restrictions still in place, such as car sharing, while some national league clubs had only completed three matches this season before the last suspension in October, hockey chiefs opted to cancel the season “after a year of considerable disruption, delay and frustration”.
In early January, the majority of clubs favoured a shorter season with teams playing each other just once.
But England Hockey said that clubs’ consultation suggested this was no longer the case, and fewer than 40 per cent of teams were in favour of continuing the season.
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