Three Oxfordshire clubs, who suffered relegation in the Home Counties Premier Lea-gue last season, could get a reprieve following a proposal for Hertfordshire teams to quit the competition.
Oxford were relegated from DivisIon 1, while Shipton-under-Wychwood and Thame Town suffered the same fate in Division 2 West and returned to the Cherwell League.
If the proposal goes ahead, Aston Rowant would be promoted to the top flight, while Horspath would return to the feeder league.
The Home Counties consists of Division 1, Division 2 West and Division 2 East, which is exclusively drawn from Hertfordshire League clubs.
Knowing how concerned their clubs were about the cost of travelling and provision of lunches in all-day games following a survey, the Hertfordshire League asked the 14 clubs concerned – four in the Division 1 and ten in Division 2 East – if they wanted to quit the competition in 2014.
When they got wind of this move, the Home Counties Premier League (HCPL) reacted strongly, saying that if the Herts clubs wanted to leave, they should go immediately.
“If everyone knew that Hertfordshire clubs were going to quit in 2014, that would make 2013 a silly season,” said HCPL chairman Ray Wood.
“We didn’t want the uncertainty hanging over us,” he added. “I hope whatever the outcome of the vote, it is decisive one way or another.”
Hertfordshire clubs have until next Wednesday to make their views known to the Hertfordshire League.
Tony Johnson, the Herts League chairman, said that if there was a strong vote in favour of quitting the HCPL, there would be a further meeting in November to formalise the decision.
“If the four clubs in Division 1 vote to stay in, I suspect that the proposal would fail, but there is a strong body of opinion among the clubs against the length and cost of games in the Home Counties, he added.
“If it doesn’t go through now, I suspect it could crop up again in two or three years time.”
Should the Herts clubs quit the HCPL, the four vacancies in Division 1 would be filled by Oxford, who were relegated from the top flight, plus the teams finishing second, third and fourth in Division 2 West –- namely Aston Rowant, Dinton and Falkland.
The four vacancies in Division 2 West would be filled by last season’s relegated clubs Thame and Shipton, plus Horspath and Wokingham, respective runners-up in the Cherwell and Thames Valley Leagues.