THE Aire-Wharfe League’s management committee will need to put on their thinking caps between now and mid-December.

The league’s Rules Working Group, who have met seven times, have come up with 22 recommendations to be discussed by the management committee on the back of a player survey.

Among the recommendations for change are starting Saturday league matches at 12.30pm, renaming the top tier as the Premier Division, with the next two sections to be called Division One and Division Two (instead of divisions One, Two and Three) and introducing seeding for both the Waddilove and Birtwhistle cups.

This would mean the bottom 16 teams, as determined by the previous season’s league tables, would enter at round one, the middle 16 teams would join in round two, and the top four teams would be exempt to round three.

This would eliminate a third-tier club being thrashed by a top-tier club in the first round.

Meanwhile, the Rules Working Group have also recommended that the Chappell Cup (for third teams) be held later in the season to get away from exam revision time, and that powerplays should be introduced into the Birtwhistle Cup.

As for rules that they don’t want to be changed on the back of the player survey, the Rules Working Group want the length of an innings to remain the same (50 overs for first XIs, 45 overs for second XIs and 40 overs for third XIs), the status quo to remain on the number of teams in a division (12 per Saturday division) and that promotion and relegation be continued for third XIs.

Other rules that the group want to stay concerns the points system, with the exception of a rained off or abandoned match garnering four points per team instead of three, and that clubs should continue to provide teas, with each away team coughing up £40.

A greyer area is replacing the current cup competitions with a T20 format, although holding a separate T20 competition in midweek geographical groups is an option, with a possible finals day on a Sunday.

The survey was filled in by 321 players, with the surprise being that the age group with the greatest number of responses was the under-21s with 60, when often they are the ones accused of being apathetic.

The group’s findings were revealed at the league’s annual meeting at Otley RUFC, and they will present the proposed rule changes to the league’s management committee at their scheduled meeting on Wednesday, December 13.

The clubs will receive the proposed rule changes two days later and have until Monday, January 8 to provide the league management committee with any feedback.

The latter, who meet on Wednesday, January 10, will then most likely approve the rule changes at that meeting, and they will then be published on or before January 31.

The Rules Working Group comprised Mark Sugden (Old Leodiensian), Paul Smith (Menston), Alan Cuff (Thackley) and Martin Molyneux (Bolton Villas).

Smith, who was voted on to the league’s management committee at the AGM, said: “We have done player surveys before, and players have been quite engaged so I was not surprised at the numbers as we have often sent out reminders to fill it in.

“A lot of hard work has gone into it and we had a discussion in the Rules Working Group about what we should ask them, but the (amount of) responses from the younger end surprised me.

“What also surprised me was the number of people putting themselves forward to being an umpire (112 responded in the affirmative while 27 said that they knew someone who might be interested in becoming an umpire), which has already borne fruit.

“There is plenty of time for feedback from the clubs and the management committee, and we might have missed something.”