Long Covid Hits 4NCL
The 4NCL has eventually published dates for the 4NCL weekends for 2022-23. Problems were encountered finding cost-viable venues due to prices having risen, seemingly due to hotels trying to recoup losses due to covid. Hitherto there had usually been two venues used for each weekend, but now 7 out of 10 hotel bookings are at the Mercure Hotel, Daventry as a result of the problems encountered. Efforts are still being made to find possible alternatives cheaper than those currently booked - if possible cancellation charges still make things cheaper.
Whilst dates to be used are now fixed, with two dates per “weekend”, which divisions play on which date in a given round has yet to be decided.
Further setbacks stem from the relatively low entries and take-up of on-site accommodation last season in Divisions 3 North and Central, and so the earlier plans for three Divisions 3, North, Central and South, and similar plans for Division 4, have had to be scrapped on the basis of costs, and instead there will be one 12-team all-play-all Division 3 and one 12-team Swiss Division 4 instead.
All combined, this means a new team from the North, hoping to enter Division 3 North and to play nowhere more exotic that Doncaster or Bolton, would now have to countenance travelling to Daventry, or once or twice to Warwick or Milton Keynes. The three are of course all in the Midlands, and of course players in Divisions 1 and 2 are hardened to travelling to the Midlands all the time, but one wonders how many teams from the fringes will drop out on the basis of venues involved.
Not all is doom and gloom, as Divisions 1 and 2, which last season were merged into one, are reinstated as 12-team all-play-alls.