Pulling The Flag

The ‘Premiership’

We are sure you’ve heard the plans by now about the new tiered system set to be introduced for 2018, but if you haven’t, heres a quick catchup and a little preview as to what we think will happen.

In early 2017, BAFA Flag Director, Nick Bertenshaw sent out details of the 2017 season and the rough plans to making 2018, huge. The email said:

The top 2 teams from each division will qualify for the 2017 post-season AND the 2018 Premier League. After 2017 we will be moving to a tiered system, with promotion, relegation etc. The exact format of the Premier League will be clarified after the 2017 season has completed.

So what we assume by this is n 2018, the top two sides from each division in each conference will come together to create a ‘Premiership’ to a create more competitive play. Although the structure hasn’t yet been announced (due post season), we can only assume there will be a ‘Prem North’ & ‘Prem South’. Now we can then assume the rest of the teams form into ‘Division 1’. As an example we will take the South (SWC & SEC) and apply how it would currently look.

Premiership: Birmingham Lions, Coventry Cougars Mixed, Cardiff Hurricanes, Exeter Falcons, Northants Titans Blue, Northants Phantoms, London Rebels, Baker Street Buttonhookers, Chichester Sharks, Reading Lions, Aylesbury Vale Spartans & West Essex Showboats.

This also begs the question on whether the structure for qualification into the Premiership should’ve been the top two from each division, or instead the best twelve teams in the region. For example, the Victoria Park Panthers may feel a little robbed of a place in the Premiership, considering their ability to compete with the big dogs in the conference. But one year in Division 1 could see them get a promotion anyway, as the promotion/relegation system should sort itself out

The longest journey in the South would be about Exeter to London at about 3 hours and 30+ minutes by car. However most journeys are around the 2 hour mark. Whilst the travel times can be severely shortened with some good strategic planning of fixtures to ensure Exeter wouldn’t play in London, and instead play each other at say Reading’s ground. The South is relatively straight forward in this aspect.

The real complex problem could prove to be the North. With Aberdeen about 6+ hours away from Sheffield, and almost every team being at last 3 hours away from Glasgow (except Newcastle), the travel times could make the proposition a little less attractive for those not wanting to spend longer in a car, than actually playing the sport.

Overall the travel times will be longer than the regional way the league is currently setup, but thats to be expected, right?

The Premiership is then made up of 12 teams, which begs the question of; how many games will be played a season? 11 doesn’t seem enough, but 22 would be a new record for teams. But, as in previous years the demand for more games is definitely there, with more and more teams playing in more domestic tournaments as well as international tournaments like Big Bowl, Champions Bowl & Pink Bowl.

How will the playoffs work, something like the top 4 from the South and North could work in one day. But to make it a special feeling, surely maintaining that no more than 50% of the teams should reach the playoffs, and if so, who plays who in what format? We’d probably take the top 3 (with top seed getting a bye) or top 4 from each conference to play in one ‘Finals Day’. We could also feature a relegation game where the bottom team is certainly relegated, and then the 2nd bottom plays the 2nd placed team from Division 1.

Would BAFA give teams a voice to teams to allow input into the structure? What happens if a team doesn’t want to be in the Premiership because of a barrier such as travel? Questions we cant answer but the development of flag in Britain is looking strong and more competitive.

What other issues do you see in the system?

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