GAA Football

Proposal for no relegation in Tyrone this year

There will be 18 clubs competing for the Tyrone Senior League title next year under new proposals.

Relegation is set to be suspended in the Tyrone club football leagues this year.

No teams will suffer the drop, but promotion will continue to operate.

That means 18 clubs will compete in an enlarged Division One next season, an increase of two.

The major adjustment to the competition format is a consequence of a decision to allow clubs to opt in or opt out of the leagues.

Clubs will have the final say on whether the new proposal is to be implemented but must make their minds up by tomorrow (Fri).

If the move is approved, it will remove the fear of losing status from any clubs which may decide to withdraw from the series due to health concerns.

“It takes the fear away from the clubs that they might be relegated if they opt out,” said Martin Sludden, chairman of the Competitions Control Committee.

“And clubs, particularly those with low numbers of players, that might lose players for one reason or another during the league, won’t have that fear either.”

Sludden, who is also county vice-chairman, said it’s important that clubs are fully involved in the consultation and decision-making process, and that the final say rests with them.

They have been presented with two options – whether to remove relegation for one season, or to continue with normal promotion and relegation processes.

“It’s not for us to be dictating to clubs what they should do, so we want to get the clubs involved in making decisions on this.

“They can have their say, and we’re prepared to listen to them. That’s important. We want to work with them to reach the best possible arrangement for a season that is exceptional, and which we hope we will never see the like of again in our lifetime.

“We are aware of clubs that have had serious concerns over relegation.

“And those clubs with smaller squads could find it tough with double rounds of fixtures and two games every weekend, Friday and Sunday.

“If any of their players get hurt, they could miss a lot of games, with so many games over a short period of time.

“A lot of clubs are in that position, clubs that have struggled to field reserve sides over the past couple of years. Those double weekends would put a lot of pressure on them.

“So the two options have gone out to the clubs, and it’s up to them to decide.”

Whatever the decision of the clubs, the next step will be taken next Tuesday, when an open draw will divide each of the three league divisions into random groups of eight.

A full fixtures programme is expected to be drawn up and made public within days.

While Division One will increase to 18 teams for the 2021 season, Division Two will continue to feature 16 teams, while Division Three will be reduced by two, to 15 participants.

Sludden said: “There will be two extra games to be played in Division One next year. We would hope we can get those additional games fitted in during the summer, when we normally break for a number of weeks.

“I think clubs will welcome those extra games.” The extra fixtures are expected to be ‘starred’ and played without county players.

A fresh overhaul of the Tyrone league system is expected to be made for the 2022 season – delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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GAA Football