Potential 2017 BAFA National Leagues structures

While the teams that went through the associate process in 2016 await their fate regarding league entry in 2017, and as the rest of the BAFA National Leagues waits with baited breath to hear of the revised structure and possible alignment change(s), we at DC have had a bit of a play around, looking at potential structures for the new campaign.

Firstly, apologies to any associate side we may have forgotten in this process. There’s many young programmes aspiring to league status and it’s tough to keep track of them all sometimes!

Secondly, unable to complete their seasons in the Premier North and Premier South respectively, the fate of Coventry Jets and London Olympians will have a trickle-down effect across the rest of the divisions and conferences. So far we can only speculate the situation for each programme’s adult team.

Assuming BAFA operates an ‘open door’ policy in terms of associate process success, we make that potentially eleven ‘new’ teams entering the BAFA National Leagues in 2017, all starting in Division Two, including Clyde Valley Blackhawks, who resigned from the league just before the 2016 season started, and chalked up three associate games quickly to re-enter the league in 2017. Then there’s Maidstone Pumas who withdrew during the course of #Britball16, but we assume will be looking to return in 2017.

We made use of a dreary humpday train journey to jot down the following potential shapes for the Adult National Leagues in 2017:


Disclaimer: The following represents only potential alignments, and in no way represents an official BAFA announcement of alignments or league structures. The hope is that these official announcements will be made this weekend, per BAFA Director of Competitions, Russ Hewitt.

What we do know;

  • Both Edinburgh Wolves and Bury Saints are promoted to the Premier division.

What we think we know;

  • Potentially 11 associate sides could gain league status ahead of the 2017 campaign.
  • We’re pretty sure four of the 2016 Division Two sides will be promoted (all finalists).
  • At least three of the 2016 Division One sides will likely be relegated.

Let’s take a look at the final standings at the close of the 2016 season…

2016 Final Standings

As mentioned previously, the fate of the Jets and Olympians will have a big say on the structure across the rest of the BAFA National Leagues.

 

SCENARIO ONE: Jets and Olympians demoted to Division One.

Some may consider this a let off for Coventry and the O’s. Failure to complete a season at Premier level should not happen, but only those at the respective clubs will know the finer details of why they were unable to do so.

2017 Scenario 1 pre-associate v2

The above structure takes in to account both Edinburgh Wolves and Bury Saints being promoted to the Premier North and Premier South respectively. This much we know. Working on the assumption that four Division Two sides are promoted to Division One (Cambridgeshire Cats, Leicester Falcons, Newcastle Vikings and Oxford Saints), and all of the bottom sides from the NFC1 (Clyde Valley Blackhawks), MFC1 (Peterborough Saxons) and SFC1 (Hertfordshire Cheetahs) drop out of the division.

With Gateshead Senators’ only wins coming by way of CVB’s withdrawal, they would also appear to drop down to Division Two, and in order to avoid a lopsided MFC1, we believe moving Doncaster Mustangs and Nottingham Caesars to the NFC1 would suit the structure.

Then we need to include what could be up to 11 associate sides. In keeping the 2016 structure of 6 conferences in Division Two (three in each of the NFC2 and SFC2), and aligning the associate sides in to the most ‘appropriate’ location, we get lopsided conferences.

2017 Scenario 1 current structure v3

For this scenario and all others, we have come up with a Double Coverage Structure. This would see the creation of a fourth NFC2 and SFC2 conference; the NFC2 Scotland and SFC2 London. The result is a much more balanced number of sides in each conference.

2017 Scenario 1 DC structure v2

In our structure, Humber Warhawks would see themselves realigned over to the revised NFC2 North from the NFC2 South. The new ‘SFC2 London’ conference would only have four sides, meaning a 10-game season would either include four games against a conference opponent (and three each against the other two) or cross-conference games to avoid overkill.

Then we have the next scenario…

 

SCENARIO TWO: Jets and Olympians relegated to Division Two.

As a result of not completing their seasons, the next scenario would see both the Jets and Olympians demoted to the bottom of the BAFA National Leagues. In this scenario, the Premier divisions would remain untouched and the differences to the first scenario begin in Division 1.

Below is the current league structure of a six conference Division Two:

2017 Scenario 2 current structureHere you’ll see that Gateshead Senators have escaped relegation to the bottom tier, and with both the Jets and Olympians demoted to the basement tier, we’ve suggested the promotion of Leeds Bobcats to ensure all three Division One conferences have six teams. Whilst Leeds were heavily beaten by Newcastle in the playoffs, we understand that many of those points came in garbage time as the Bobcats chased a comeback. Based on their form in 2016, it’s our belief that Leeds Bobcats would give a decent account of themselves in the middle tier.

However, the 2016 structure once again points towards uneven conferences in Division Two. Below is a mock up of how we’d see the alignment using the Double Coverage Structure.

2017 Scenario 2 DC structure

Our version using the second scenario sees a much more balanced Division Two, and five teams per conference in the SFC2.

 

SCENARIO THREE: Jets drop to Division One, Olympians to Division Two.

‘Why?’ we hear some of you asking. The answer is simple. The Jets forfeited one game in the middle of the season due to ‘player safety’. We assume this was due to the number of players available on that particular day, as the Jets continued their season, playing the final three fixtures and even beat Lancashire Wolverines in their season finale.

On the other hand, much was made of the lack of players training at the time the London Olympians forfeited their final two fixtures of the season. Do the O’s have a sustainable squad to even compete in the second tier of the BAFA National Leagues? This scenario looks at the possibility that the Jets drop one division, and the O’s drop to the basement.

Using the current BAFA structure, we envisage that the alignment could look like this.

2017 Scenario 3 current structure

This potential alignment would see Doncaster Mustangs move over to the NFC1 to accommodate Coventry Jets in the MFC1. Compared to the second scenario, Leeds would remain in Division Two. Once again, the alternative Double Coverage Structure would align teams like this…

2017 Scenario 3 DC structure

 

We can only stress again that the above possible structures are all the opinion of Double Coverage staff, and do not represent any official BAFA announcement. However, we’d be keen to seek the #BritballNation’s thoughts on the above. If you had to choose, which of the above scenario’s would you believe to be the way forward?

  • Scenario 1, 2016 structure
  • Scenario 1, DC structure
  • Scenario 2, 2016 structure
  • Scenario 2, DC structure
  • Scenario 3, 2016 structure
  • Scenario 3, DC structure

Think we may have overlooked something whilst toying with structure ideas? Let us know in the comments!

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Rob Amor

Rob somehow fits Britball around a hectic life of work, newborns, and rare, blissful, moments of quiet in which to nap. Rob stepped down from the Birmingham Bulls committee at the end of 2016 and walked away after 10 years at the club. He leads DC's Adult league coverage and dabbles in a bit of BUCS. Follow him on Twitter - @RobAmorDC