Chairman's blog - 10 May
Posted on 10th May 2020 at 20:46
I hope that everyone connected with our league is managing to cope with the current restrictions that govern our lives. Through helping a couple of neighbours and my friend Richard a few miles away, I can see that the situation is affecting some people much more than others, and in different ways.
Like everyone else, I would like to see a return to some kind of normality as the risk of contracting Covid-19 diminishes. But thereby lies the issue – even the experts do not agree, and all those who we read in the media have different opinions and agendas. I saw a good letter last week – it simply said ‘one thing is certain, whatever Boris does, he will be wrong.’ And of course he will – I don’t envy him one jot. He cannot please everyone on this subject. I know he wanted the job, but I’m sure he didn’t sign up for this. At least I ‘only’ have to think about what to do for the best in a cricket league!
Since my last blog I have received and pulled together the results of our survey of clubs on their views about what cricket might be played this season. There was a level of agreement about quite a number of issues; for example, that there should be no promotion and relegation this year, that junior cricket must be played, that a mix of t20/100 and cup competition is the likely way forward if we can play, that no formal competitions should be organised if we can’t start safely before the beginning of August, and that clubs will need a couple of weeks’ notice before being able to start playing. What pleased me most though is that all the clubs are saying that they should be ok for 2021, whatever happens this season. I take very seriously comments saying that ensuring that everything is in shape for 2021 is more important than playing a small amount of less meaningful cricket this season.
On the last day of April, we had our first full committee meeting using Zoom. I had ‘practiced’ its use on a couple of occasions in my merger discussions with David Ward and Matt Summerhill, and I thought it worked well. The one issue for me is around the strength of internet signals. One of our committee did not have a particularly good signal; it was difficult for us to hear him, and I am sure that it was difficult for him to see and hear too. But being able to see people is the crucial advantage that this medium has over teleconferencing. The latter were used quite a lot when I was in the civil service, and I hated them. The great advantage that Zoom has over rival systems like Microsoft Teams is that you can see all the participants on your screen at the same time.
There were three main topics on our agenda for the meeting. Gareth Davis gave us an excellent presentation on the different sources of financial help available to clubs. I would like to thank Gareth for the really valuable work that he is doing for clubs in South Yorkshire in helping them to access as much financial help as possible. He has arranged to run some Zoom conferences for all the clubs in our league and the SYSCL during the coming week, and rightly, Gareth says that there are 144 clubs in South Yorkshire, and they are all equally important. His key message is that if any club is in financial difficulty, they should get in touch with him as soon as possible.
The second main discussion was around the Covid-19 situation, and the possible scenarios if and when we are allowed to play recreational cricket. Reflecting on the discussion, I think that if and when this happens, we will need to go back to clubs and check whether they feel that they have the right infrastructure and support in place to be able to play cricket before we go ahead and organise competitions. Two specific considerations are around affordability if bars cannot be opened, and availability of match officials.
Finally, we had a discussion around the proposals for a merger of our league with the SYSCL. I mentioned this subject in my last blog a fortnight ago, and I had a comment suggesting that we consider reverting to the old Yorkshire League set-up. I must put a stop to any speculation that this could happen. I think I speak for the majority of those connected with our league when I say that the link up with the SYSCL, specifically in providing the opportunity for the top clubs from that league to play Premier League cricket, and the competitive element engendered by promotion and relegation, has been more successful than any of us could have imagined. Reverting to the old system would be a regressive step.
In addition, and even more importantly, our league, and Yorkshire League North, were set up by, and are in consequence owned by, the Yorkshire Premier Leagues Management Board. They are integral to the four- pyramid system in the county, which culminates in the end-of-season White Rose Yorkshire Champions competition. Even if we thought that reverting to what we had before was a good idea, the Board would not allow it, and would not grant it Premier League status.
I mention this point also because the Board has some concerns about our discussion paper, specifically around protecting the Premier League, which we covered in our discussion on 30 April. I am confident that we can address these concerns in a revised version of the paper, that will also take into account comments from the two league committees, for issue to clubs by the end of the month.
Aside from cricket, my Rovers heritage work is keeping me busy. Although all our face-to-face activity is suspended, the club have asked me to provide daily historical articles for their website, and we are launching a new Heritage Website through joint lottery and university funding. I have nearly finished reformatting all my match records for the newly-relaunched Rugby League Record Keepers Club, and my next task is to provide photos and pen pictures for a series of 50 club ‘greats’ for the new website. Along with my shopping and household duties, all this means that keeping occupied is thankfully not a problem for me!
My next blog will be in a fortnight’s time, by which time our lifestyles will have no doubt undergone further change. I do believe that not all the changes that we have seen over the last couple of months have been negative, and it would be a mistake to just try to go back to exactly what we did before. The reduction in travel, for example, has been a real positive, and we need to look at how we can learn lessons from what we have done. For our league, I certainly envisage the use of videoconferencing for a significant proportion of our meetings in the future.
Whatever happens over the next couple of weeks, I hope everyone connected with our league will keep well. Take care!
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