The Future of the National League

On Tuesday we finally found out what happens with Super League next year. It is likely that the National League will be two members short. Even if three current NL sides get promoted, then one existing team will be demoted. But what will, and should, happen to next years National League competition?nnAccording to www.therfl.co.uk, the following scenario should apply:nnScenario 1nLicences for Super League 14 teams in SL including one French teamnnRemaining RFL member clubs 20 teams in NL 1 & 2 – 8 in NL1 & 12 in NL2nnDesired make up NL1 & NL2 10 in NL1 – 10 in NL2nnPromotion & relegation Relegate 1 club from NL1 & promote 3 clubs from NL2 – 2 automatic promotion places and 1 via play off places 3-8nnBut is this the way to go? Various suggestions have been made. One of the most radical being a split between a west and east section, similar to the old Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues in years gone by. This proposal will see teams play each side from their own section twice and the other section once. This would give a twenty-seven game season. The Northern Rail Cup would be abolished.nnAdvocates would argue that this would see more interesting local derby games, plus less time travelling across the Pennines. It is said that some of the smaller clubs struggle with the costs of the long cross country jaunts.nnThose against this system would say that this would mean more uneven games. There is a big gap between the top of NL1 and the bottom of NL2. This would mean more uninteresting games.nnMost supporters agree that the group stages of the Northern Rail Cup are little more than a competitive pre-season run out. Rumours seem to suggest that the competition will be having a major revamp. Some members of the press believe that the final could even be played as a curtain raiser for the Challenge Cup final at Wembley itself.nnPersonally I would like to see more league games. Possibly a fourteen team division giving parity to Super League. National League 2 would then, however , have to find at least four new members to make it at least a ten team competition. They could also play each other three times. The best four clubs from the conference or even Toulouse could join. Obviously the stadium criteria must be relaxed for NL2. It would be an ideal chance for the much heralded expansion League.nnMy final make up would be:n• National League One: 14 teams playing each other twice home and away with an eight team play off. (26 games)n• National League Two: 10 teams playing each other three times (27 games)nnI would make the Northern Rail Cup into a straight knockout competition. I would have a west and east section with the winner of those teams meeting in a grand final. You never know, we could even polish off the old Lancashire and Yorkshire Cups?nnEach section would consist of twelve teams – seeded on previous seasons league position. The top four seeds will get a bye into the regional quarter final and meet the winners of the other ties. The seeded draw would continue until the final. This should ensure no mismatches.nnI think this may revamp both competitions into the great events in their own rights.nnkevin.finney@lasttackle.com

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