League restructuring proposal

The league committee have received the proposal below from Brixham TTC Chairman, Brian Pengelly.  This will be discussed at the forthcoming AGM and the committee would welcome any comment either prior to the AGM (to secretary Geoff Read) or at the AGM. Please read the proposal carefully and let us know your views

"I am very concerned with the way at the start of each season the structure of the league and size of the divisions is dictated by the number and strength of teams entering. For example last season there were ten teams in the third division but only eight in the first division! Therefore I have listed below my thoughts and suggestions on how I feel the league could progress, and hopefully improve, with an established procedure rather than each season hopping from one system to another. Now at the start of this season the teams suddenly found that the league had reverted to teams playing against each other three times which is, in my opinion, unfair for those teams having to play their main rivals twice away.

 My proposal to the committee is as follows:- 

1. Each season all divisions to consist of eight teams. (See note number 5. in respect of bottom division).

2. Teams to play against each other on a home and away basis which gives every team fourteen matches. Using this season’s programme of matches as a guide, but not having a free week in October, that would give all teams a match every week (apart from the weeks set aside for cup matches) up to the start of February.

3. The top four teams in each division to then play each other on a home and away basis, likewise with the bottom four, giving all teams six more matches. The top four teams in the first division would be competing to be crowned league champions or runners-up. In the other divisions the top four teams would be competing for the two automatic promotion places. The bottom four teams (apart from the lowest division) would be fighting to avoid the two automatic relegation places.

4. Again using this season’s programme as a guide, the first week in February could be set aside for cup matcheswhich should give sufficient time to inform teams of their programme of matches for the last third of the season. This would then give ten weeks (up to the end of April) for teams to play the six matches. This should remove any possible problem with shared hall/table situations. 

5. The bottom division would have the flexibility to accommodate up to and including eleven teams. Home and away would give that number of teams twenty matches, the same as the other divisions. If the bottom division comprised of four or more teams, but less than eight, a season’s programme of matches could be arranged either by playing against each other more than twice or a mini competition just for that division.


Disadvantages of present system

1. It is unfair on those teams having to play their main rivals away from home twice. This means it is not a level ‘playing field’ and it could also have an adverse effect a player’s individual averages.

2. In most cases by the time the present programme enters its final third, i.e. teams playing each other for third time, it will be obvious as to what will be the final position of each team. This is backed up by looking at page forty two of the league handbook which shows final placingsat the end of last season. Very few of those teams would have changed places if they had played another round of matches apart from some teams in the second division.

3. Each team situated in the comfort of the middle section of their respective division after playing the other teams twice do not have much to fight for when playing for the third time apart from the satisfaction of beating the opposing team and individual players’ averages.

4. Teams finishing either second from top or second from bottom, and sometimes top or bottom, are unsure as to which division they will be placed in for next season by the committee until the commencement of that season,thereby sometimes making team selection difficult for clubs with more than one team.

5. Due to the committee trying to assess the playing strengths of teams at the start of a season, before placing them in what is thought their appropriate division, movement of teams and players from division to division can sometimes be quite minimal. This can cause a general feeling amongst the players of déjà vu. In fact, looking at the names of players who are playing in the first division this season I have difficulty in finding more than two who were playing second division the previous season. That same criticism can apply to the names of teams. 


Advantages of proposed system

1. It could make each division far more competitive because teams would be not only competing for top two or avoiding bottom two places but trying to avoid the cut in the middle of each division and what it entails. Far better to end up safe in the top half than the worry of the bottom half with fear of relegation.

2. The matches in the last third of the season could be more closely contested as there would not be such a disparity in strength amongst some of the teams so they could be more closely matched and also each match would take on greater importance.

3. If this proposed system was introduced it would encourage teams to arrange to play their postponed matches as quickly as possible for fear of not missing ‘the cut’ and what it could imply.

4. It could reduce the incidents of top players getting together to form a team, play in the first division, win the league and then disband!

5. It would remove the problem for the league committee of trying to assess the strength of teams in order to place them in suitable divisions. It could also stop anysubsequent criticism from disgruntled teams! However there would still be the need for committee adjudication should a team completely disband at the end of a season leaving a space to be filled.

6. It would assist clubs in allocating players to teams because it would be known in advance in which divisions their teams would be playing according to how they finished the previous season.

7. It could also assist players, when selecting the team they would like to play for, by knowing in advance in which divisions teams would definitely be playing.

8. There would be greater movement of teams and players within the divisions by two teams being promoted and two teams being relegated each season. This would create a greater feeling of freshness and change for players at the start of a season, knowing that even if they are in the same division as last season a lot of the teams, and players, have changed.



I am of the opinion that it would be advantageous for the committee and the league to adopt an established procedure to follow during the end of one season and the commencement of the next. I have sounded out the opinions of several other league members from various age groups and a large majority were in favour. Obviously there is the possibility that some were agreeing with me out of politeness but even allowing for that there was a consensus for change. Another factor is that it could remove any possibility of accusations of biased decisions against members of the committee. There is though the possibility of some slight end of season anomalies to be considered. It could work out that the teams in fifth place at the time of the cut might have scored more points at the end of the season than the team that finished in fourth place. This could be caused by the team being in fourth place would, for the last third of the season, be playing matches against, in theory, stronger teams whereas the team in fifth place would be playing against weaker teams thereby scoring more heavily than the team in fourth. However this possible end of season swapping of places would have no bearing on promotion/relegation issues as the four teams in the top group would be competing for promotion and those four teams in the bottom group would be trying to avoid relegation.  

I moved here and joined the league in nineteen seventy two and for several years was one of its top players before age took its inevitable toll. At that time there were six large divisions but over the years this reduced to three smaller divisions. Fortunately, due mainly to the amount of coaching going on in the Bay, numbers have very gradually increased but the general format has not changed, apart from the successful introduction of the Singles Super League for a while, only for it to make way for the return of teams playing each other three times! Therefore I strongly feel there is a need to streamline league procedure to make decision making by clubs and players easier by taking away the start of season uncertainty as to which division players have been placed. I can recall several players who have dropped out of the league because they were unhappy about the division they had been placed in. This way everything would be more foreseeable and open. It would give the clubs and players the freedom of selection according to the divisions their teams qualified for at the end of the previous season. Competition each season could be more intense and interesting because teams would be more involved. For example teams in fourth place would be trying to avoid dropping to fifth and those teams in fifth place would be trying to climb to fourth in addition to those teams more directly involved in promotion and relegation. It is essential though that for this proposed system to work there must be automatic two team promotion and relegation regardless of the playing strength of affected teams at the start of the next season. Teams who have come first or second in their division should not be allowed to stay in that division the following season, it just causes stagnation with very little change of opponents. Likewise teams that end up in the bottom two places should drop down to the lower division again helping to create a freshness to a new season!  

However I fully appreciate that human nature to resist change and any thinking ‘outside the box ’, and to revert to the old mantra of ‘we have always done it this way’ might prevail. Therefore I am resigned to the fact that, in all probability, this proposal will not be accepted by most of the members of the committee and everything will carry on as before. But hey, let’s give it a go, at least I will have tried!"

Yours in table tennis,

Brian Pengelly

Chairman of Brixham Table Tennis Club











Author: via South Devon and Torbay Table Tennis League
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