Ipswich, Sudbury and IES among sides that may be set to play on for promotion as rest of East Hockey League is terminated for 2020/21
It comes after the league released a statement last night regarding the future of the 2020/21 season.
While for the vast majority of East League sides there will be no further competitive action ahead of the autumn, when the 2021/22 season begins, the sides in the top men’s and women’s division are set to be able to choose to resume.
The statement explained: “At the East League Management Committee meeting last Thursday, it was discussed and agreed that the only divisions with anything riding on the outcome was the Women’s Premier Division and the Men’s Premier A Division. This is because the England Hockey National League’s plan to expand the National League in the 2021/22 season is continuing and they wish to take two teams from our top Women’s and Men’s divisions and there will be no relegations.
“Informal work has been going on behind the scenes with the clubs concerned to assess the appetite to return to play and we hope, should travel arrangements be sufficient, that we will be able to complete the minimum season requirement of each team playing each other once for those Premier teams that wish to compete.
“Those who do not wish to compete will not be forced to play, as has been the case with any East League hockey since the pandemic began.
"We will be in contact with those clubs more formally in the next week or so to agree fixture timetables, etc."
It added: “For the remaining divisions it was agreed that the season would be terminated with immediate effect.”
Teams are being encouraged to resume hockey when they are ready, following March 29's return of team sports, potentially using some of the outstanding league fixtures as friendlies, or run inter-club activities.
Ipswich Ladies I are one of the sides that stand to benefit the most from resuming matches, currently holding a four-point lead at the top of the Ladies Premier with a perfect record from their six matches of the scheduled 22. According to the league's statement, they would need to complete a further five matches to be able to take promotion to the National League, also dependent on their league position.
Sudbury, despite being newly-promoted, also have the potential for promotion, currently sitting in fifth place, four points off second and eight off leaders Ipswich.
Ipswich & East Suffolk I are also in their division, but currently sit bottom and without a point from their six matches.
In Men's Premier A, Ipswich sit fifth and seven points off leaders Wapping II with a game in hand, with the former having played six matches. They are six points off second-placed Cambridge University I.
The East League has also revealed the Norfolk Ladies League will be absorbed into their current structure of divisions from next season.
It means both Diss and Thetford Town will have their sides playing in the East League in 2021/22.
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