There was a meeting of League 1 clubs recently at which the fixture format was discussed.
1- Swinton made the point that all the northern clubs should be playing each other home & away. (Highlighting the York situation especially).
2- The southern clubs said the current format was not helpful to their development (heavy losses, small squads, leading to yet smaller crowds, injuries, lack of growth).
3- The RFL agreed with both perspectives, but also felt there had to be "cross-fertilisation" as the development clubs need a benchmark to aspire to, & a 4th division is not an option.
We have therefore submitted an idea which I believe covers all bases (bearing in mind 22 games is considered the maximum, for good reasons I might explain on another post!).
1- All 8 northern clubs play each other home & away, plus 3 of the southern teams at home & the other 3 away (20 games in total).
2- The 6 southern teams play each other home & away, plus 4 of the northern clubs at home & the other 4 away. They also play an additional 2 fixtures against each other based on a southern ranking system.
1- Legitimate league table at top end, enabling champions to be promoted (with 2nd to 5th play-offs).
2- Every team in league still plays each other.
3- Southern clubs have more games against each other & are not over exposed to the northern clubs. They could even have their own trophy based on final ranking positions (a 1st v 2nd final for example).
Not saying it's perfect, but most areas of concern are covered under that system. There is positive discrimination towards the southern clubs under this system, but that's probably what is needed.
An alternative idea of splitting the league in half after a full round of 13 fixtures is also being floated, but I believe that creates a number of anomalies.
What we do have is a great team spirit. I was really impressed to find out that the lads had organised their own team meeting before training last week, because they were so disappointed with the result at York. This without any prompting from the coaching staff. They are desperate to be successful for the club.