NIHL: format of leagues agreed for 18/19 season

Officials from member clubs and the LMC met this weekend in Sheffield and Newbury to agree the format of competition for NIHL in season 2018/19.

After the discussions the LMC are pleased to announce the following arrangements have been agreed by the clubs.

NIHL NORTH 1 (Moralee)
Sutton Sting are promoted to Division 1, Deeside Dragons are relegated to Division 2. The membership of the division for 18/19 will be: Billingham Stars, Blackburn Hawks, Hull Pirates, Nottingham Lions, Sheffield Steeldogs, Solihull Barons, Solway Sharks, Sutton Sting, Telford Tigers, Whitley Warriors.

Clubs will play 2 home and 2 away against each other in the league.

NIHL NORTH 2 (Laidler)
Deeside Dragons will run a single team in Division 2. The membership of the division will be: Altrincham Aces, Blackburn Hawks 2, Bradford Bulldogs, Coventry Blaze, Deeside Dragons, Hull Jets, Sheffield Senators, Telford Tigers 2, Widnes Wild.

Clubs will play 2 home and 2 away against each other in the league.

NIHL SOUTH 1 (Britton)
No club has been promoted from Division 2, therefore the league membership remains unchanged from last season: Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Cardiff Fire, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Milton Keynes Thunder, Peterborough Phantoms, Streatham IHC, Swindon Wildcats.

Clubs will play 2 home and 2 away against each other in the league.

NIHL SOUTH 2 (Wilkinson)
An application from London Raiders to enter a second team in the division was accepted by the meeting. There will be fifteen teams in the league: Basingstoke Buffalo, Bracknell Hornets, Bristol Pitbulls, Cardiff Fire 2, Chelmsford Chieftains, Guildford Phoenix, Haringey Huskies, Invicta Mustangs, Lee Valley Lions, London Raiders 2, Oxford City Stars, Peterborough Phantoms 2, Slough Jets, Solent Devils, Swindon Wildcats 2.

Clubs will pay 1 home and 1 away against each other in the league.

CUP COMPETITIONS
The National Cup and Autumn Cup will not be continued in their current form. Discussions on interleague cup competitions will continue for future seasons. For 18/19 the North and South will run separate cup competitions for Division 1. There will be no cup competitions for Division 2 in either North or South.

In the North a number of teams have expressed an interest in the Cup and these discussions are ongoing. Full details will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.

In the South there will be seven teams in the Cup, namely Basingstoke, Swindon, Peterborough, Streatham, Invicta, London and Bracknell. These clubs will play 1 home and 1 away against the other six teams in the Cup. The top four sides will qualify for two-legged semi final. The Final will also be over two legs.

PLAYOFFS – Division 1
The discussions at both league meetings confirmed that Division 1 clubs are happy with the format for post season play. This will continue in 18/19. The top eight teams in each division will play two-legged quarter finals, progressing to semi finals and final.

The two regional finalists in each league will qualify for the Final Four weekend which will once again take place in Coventry. The date of Coventry 2019 will be confirmed and announced later in the summer.

PLAYOFFS – Division 2
The postseason for Division 2 in North and South will both follow the same format for season 18/19. The top four sides in the leagues will qualify for a Finals Weekend at a central venue. The details of each venue will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.

FIXTURES
It is the hope of the LMC to have league fixtures published by the end of July.

RULES OF COMPETITION
From the 18/19 season, automatic promotion and relegation between Division 1 and Division 2 has been scrapped. Moving between divisions in either direction will now be by application to the LMC.

The clubs have agreed in principle to the videoing of all NIHL 1 games to a minimum standard. This will assist with referee training and development as well as disciplinary decisions.

League manager Richard Carpenter said: “It was a long weekend but once again very much worthwhile to see all NIHL clubs and discuss issues face to face.

“The league has come a long way in the last 12 months and we look forward to the new campaign starting in September.”