20th October 2014

Sway 1st XI - the whole story

The following is a detailed and hopefully balanced explanation of the circumstances surrounding Sway 1st being denied promotion to CD2 in 2015:

Background & the Problem

Sway’s ground and facilities were subject to inspections by members of the Hampshire Cricket League (HCL) grounds committee in September 2014.

Later in September, the Club was formally made aware of two areas where the Club was not in compliance with the relevant criteria set down by the HCL in its rules/handbook.

The relevant section from the rules states as follows:

For CD4 through to CD1 clubs must have an "ample separate undercover area complete with sufficient furniture for taking teas" and a "clean & hygenic wash area with showers and hot water easily available to both teams" With regard to these facilities the handbook also states that they must be "within or adjacent to the pavilion"

The Grounds Committee then produced a report the conclusion of which was a recommendation that Sway 1st XI be denied promotion to CD2 due to the club's facilities being deficient as outlined above . The Club then made several representations to the HCL at the highest level. The Club expressed surprise and disappointment at the proposed decision and proposed that works be carried out to rectify the issues prior to 2015.

The HCL made it quite clear that the rules and their interpretation of the rules must be followed. This included the deadline for compliance of the 31st August 2014. For the sake of clarity, even if the Club made arrangements to play at Dean Park or built a new pavilion prior to the 2015 season, Sway 1st XI would still have been denied promotion as the Club was not in compliance with the rules at the 31st August 2014. Accordingly, the recommendation of the Grounds Committee has now been ratified by the HCL Committee.

There is no appeal process that the HCL’s decision is final, leaving the Club with no options other than to pursue legal action or accept the ruling. The Club has decided to accept the ruling.

The League’s Position

1) The League states that the rules & regulations relating to necessary ground standards were available for inspection in the League Handbook and that the Club should have been aware of any areas where standards fell short of the required levels.

2) The rules apply to all clubs equally and the logistics of organising such a large league structure with the complicated fixture grids fixtures means that all deadlines need to be followed.

3) The regarding facilities needing to be adjacent to the pavilion is important due to the limited time available for taking teas.

The Club’s position

The Club is disappointed by the decision for a number of reasons.

1) The Club were completely unaware that their facilities were likely to be deemed deficient until after the deadline to fix them had expired. Whilst the Club must accept responsibility for not checking its compliance, the 2014 and 2013 seasons were played without compliance issues being raised by the League even though the facilities were possibly not in compliance with the rules for CD3 and CD4. As such the Club erroneously presumed that it was in compliance.

2) Secondly in the Club’s opinion, the handbook rules are not completely clear cut and revolve partly around the definition of the word “adjacent” - the Club believed that were other grounds in CD4 or above that have similar issues.

3) Thirdly, CD2 is effectively the sixth tier recreational amateur cricket in Hampshire. The Club are disappointed that the League's rules make it hard for them to actively seek to work with clubs to improve their facilities. It is well known that the Club is building a new pavilion and so the Club is now forced into a position where it must spend thousands pounds of precious funds making temporary improvements to a building that will be demolished in a couple of years.

4) Fourthly, the areas of non-compliance are in the view of the Club relatively minor and have no bearing of the health and safety of players or spectators. A covered area for teas is in reality not likely to be needed more than once or twice a season – and in the event that it was, the main pavilion at Jubilee Field (130 yards) has excellent facilities The showers that are currently used by players are again in the main pavilion next to the car park and are of a high standard - visiting players seem perfectly happy with these arrangements.

Going Forward

The matter is now closed – the Club will make no more representations to the League and the 1st XI will play in, (and hopefully win CD3S again) in 2015. Sway CC members should not seek to make any representations personally to the League or individual members of the HCL Committee.

The Club will now work with the League to ensure compliance with the rules by 31st August 2015. The new pavilion is unlikely to be in place before 2017 so the Club will obviously seek to minimize the amount of work undertaken to the old pavilion.