Dear SCPA Boule Player,
You will probably already be aware that things are going to change for next season within The Suffolk Coastal Petanque Alliance. After ten years of blood, sweat and tears in building the Alliance, it was felt it was time that Simon Fletcher got some assistance in running the league. That is not to say that Simon, as we all know, is not capable of running the league but currently, with the Alliance having grown to the size it has, he has less and less time to concentrate on the things that he is supremely good at, like expanding the Alliance and being our Ambassador with other leagues and clubs both nationally and internationally.
For that reason the Disputes Panel has morphed into a management panel to take on some of the day to day operations of the Alliance.
Ten years ago, with only seven clubs, management was relatively simple. Now with some fifty clubs it is a lot more complex. New teams have entered and some are unsure of the basic tenets of the Alliance, so it was felt it was time to set out some new rules and clarify how the Alliance is going to operate going forward.
Most of you will now have adjusted to the new Divisional structure giving rise to some fourteen games per season, although we have lost the general playoffs, which has, overall, reduced the number of games to be played. Although we now have fourteen games to play and despite playing in Regional and County, trials and matches, as well as other challenges and competitions, the Cup and the Plate, the vast majority of teams have completed their scheduled matches for the season. It was explained that it would probably take a couple of seasons for each team’s position within the structure to settle out and that will begin with the promotion and relegation changes at the end of last season.
As for new rules, the first will refer to, what was called, The Captains Meeting”. This is now to be renamed the “Team Representatives Meeting”. It will be mandatory for each team to send one representative (it can be the Captain, or any other team member) to this pre-season meeting. For any team taking the decision to enter the League, this means that they have accepted to send a Representative to the pre-season meeting. Failure to have a Representative at the meeting will result in that team starting the season with a minus 1 League Point. A lot of information is circulated at this meeting and we no longer wish to have teams saying they do not know about information that has been provided at this meeting. It is also the Captain’s responsibility to ensure that their team members are, in turn, given the information provided at this meeting. If your team cannot send one team member, to one meeting, once a year, we feel that this shows a lack of commitment to the League which will give rise to further problems during the season.
In the past, the fact that the Alliance is basically a Sunday league has been glossed over. The vast percentage of matches are played on a Sunday mainly due to many player’s working schedules and using Saturday for necessary home chores such as shopping etc. . This now has to be confirmed and all “Fixture Dates” will be on a Sunday. The next change involves what has been referred to as “the provisional Fixture Date”, this will now be the “Fixture Date”. Under this and other new rules, if you think that you will not be able to field a team to play on fourteen Sundays between March and October, you should very seriously consider whether, or not, to enter a team. This for two main reasons, firstly, people do not seem to appreciate the negative effect that unplayed games, or the withdrawal of teams, has on other teams in the Division. Secondly because failure to play matches on a Sunday could well now result in the deduction of League points and/or a request to withdraw your team, if it becomes a regular occurrence.
There will still be the six week rule, in respect of time to play a match and matches can still be played at any time, or on any day, by mutual agreement with the opposing team, as long as it is within the six week rule. However, the team that could not play on the original “Fixture Date” will be deemed to be at fault should the match not get played. Any team that is found to be at fault for a non-played match will be deducted one League point. Under current rules, there is no penalty on a Team that does not play a match, or matches and the point deduction is there to stress that unplayed matches are unacceptable. The only time that the Disputes Panel will become involved is if a non-played match is referred to them because the team at fault think that they gave ample opportunities (on a Sunday) to play the match. For those who think that it could be wise to refuse to play matches to disadvantage an opponent, this is a risky strategy, for if the Disputes Panel consider your team to be at fault then the point deduction will be applied to your team. In extreme circumstances it could be that the Disputes Panel will share the penalty point applying a half point deduction to each team. Far better to plan your games for the season and confirm them in advance, rather than waiting until the week before to arrange a match. Any problem dates can be identified early and can be dealt with. Again this stresses the importance of the Captain’s role, when at the beginning of the season all Fixture Dates should be circulated to all team members, asking them to confirm their availability. Trying to arrange games ahead of schedule, if possible, is also a good strategy. That said, there will always be times when availability problems at short notice will still arise.
For the vast majority of teams these changes will not make any difference. There are a number of people involved in ensuring that the Alliance runs smoothly and this season, in particular, it has become apparent that the bulk of the problems have arisen from teams who have a very low commitment to the League. This is unfair on others, not just the administrators but also other teams who are vying for promotion, trying to avoid relegation or to move forward in a Cup or Plate competition and have to rearrange multiple matches. It is felt that these changes are fair. Looking at other Leagues in the UK, many insist on the playing of matches on the Fixture Date only. We have managed to retain some flexibility but all teams should be aware of the penalties that could be imposed due to organisational failure.
Due to teams being placed in Divisions on prior/current year’s performance and all new teams having to start their competitive life at the bottom of the League, the definition of “Team” becomes all important. It has been decided that title to the “Team” will lay with the Team Captain. The “Team” can only be transferred to a new Captain, if the existing Captain gives their authority in writing. In extreme circumstances, such as the abandonment of the “Team” by the Captain, or in the unfortunate circumstance of the demise of a Captain, then the Disputes Panel will decide upon a new Captain, taking into account the views of existing team members. By vesting the “Team” in the Captain, there is no issue with the renaming of a “Team”, a change of venue, or a change in the make-up of the players in a team (providing that the rule of a player only being able to play for one “Team” in each season is maintained).
It is considered these changes will make life easier and fairer for all players within the Suffolk Coastal Petanque Alliance, with everyone understanding how the League will operate going forward.
We acknowledge and accept that due to the application of these new rules, there may well be teams who decide not to enter for the new season, or even to amalgamate with other teams to create a larger team more able to complete fixtures. It is felt that dealing with this problem prior to the onset of a season is far more equitable than having to deal with the aftermath during the season.
Mike Rios-Hall – Ipswich – November 5th 2018.