NCL to stick with 49 teams – for now

KINGSTONE Press National Conference League bosses have postponed plans to expand the competition.

A five-division structure had been envisaged for 2020 but the flagship league will, confirmed Administrator Alan Smith, continue with four sections next year.

He said: “One reason is that some Division Three clubs said that 26 games were too many.

“The NCL will therefore be looking at a restructure for 2021 and the NCL Management has decided not to accept any new teams for 2020.

“Division Three will therefore have thirteen teams, playing 24 games. Promotion and relegation will remain the same for 2020.”

Clubs that have applied this time only to miss out are Dalton and Walney Central (the latter former members), both of Furness, and West Cumbria outfits Ellenborough Rangers and Seaton Rangers, together with Bentley (Doncaster) and Wyke (Bradford).

The 2021 NCL campaign will involve:

PREMIER DIVISION: West Hull (champions), Wath Brow Hornets (Minor Premiers), Hunslet Club Parkside, Thatto Heath Crusaders, Underbank Rangers, Siddal, Egremont Rangers, Lock Lane and Rochdale Mayfield, together with Division One champions Pilkington Recs, York Acorn and Featherstone Lions.

DIVISION ONE: Leigh Miners Rangers, Thornhill Trojans and Kells (all relegated), Milford, Stanningley, Wigan St Patricks, Myton Warriors, Oulton Raiders and Skirlaugh, plus Division Two champions West Bowling, Ince Rose Bridge and Hull Dockers.

DIVISION TWO: The relegated trio of Saddleworth Rangers, Normanton Knights and Dewsbury Moor Maroons, together with Wigan St Judes, Barrow Island, Crosfields, Bradford Dudley Hill, Clock Face Miners and Beverley. Woolston Rovers (as champions), Hunslet Warriors and Dewsbury Celtic have been promoted from the bottom tier.

DIVISION THREE: East Leeds, Shaw Cross Sharks and Askam (all relegated), plus Heworth, Batley Boys, Drighlington, Leigh East, Waterhead Warriors, Oldham St Annes, Hensingham, Millom, Gateshead Storm and Eastmoor Dragons.