Update: Consultation process on domestic competitions

Surbiton women celebrate the title. Credit Simon Parker - 450

Over the last twelve months England Hockey has been working with a group of clubs on the future of the highest levels of domestic hockey from a quality of delivery, financial sustainability and competition structure perspective.

Following this, there has been a period of consultation with stakeholders specifically on the top levels of domestic competition in England. England Hockey would like to record thanks to all those who contributed to the review and the consultations.

The project came about as a result of:

1. Increasing calls from clubs to review the current England Hockey League structure that has now been in place for ten years.

2. The international Hockey Pro League starting in January 2019 that will directly impact the availability of international players during the domestic season.

3. A desire on behalf of England Hockey (and clubs) to narrow the gap between the top level of the domestic game and international hockey. This is with a desire for domestic hockey to strongly contribute to systemic, sustainable and repeated international top 3 success.

On 11 June 2017 it was announced that England/Great Britain Men’s and Women’s teams would be in the Hockey Pro League (starting in January 2019). Following this announcement, work on the competition model for the domestic game has been accelerated to ensure that any implications for the 2017-18 season are clear to all before the season starts.

As such, the proposals for the National League were shared in a consultation paper in August 2017 with all England Hockey League clubs, Regional Premier League clubs, Regional Leagues, Regional Associations, international players / coaches, and National and Regional officiating bodies.

During the consultation 50 people attended face to face consultations in August and there were 77 responses from different organisations to an online survey. This feedback has been extremely helpful to understand what are the appealing and concerning aspects of the proposals.

Overall there was a positive response to the majority of what was proposed with detailed and considered feedback on some of the finer details. A summary of the responses to the review will be made available to all those who have contributed.

The England Hockey board met this week and agreed that the direction of travel of change is correct but there are some revisions that require further engagement with some of our stakeholders. The following has been agreed:

- The principle of a two-phase league season for the top of the league structure was supported.

- Clubs will play in a National League between January and April / May. This will qualify teams for a ‘best v best’ competition between September and December.

- International players will be available to play for clubs in the ‘best v best’ competition (outside of their international commitments).

- More consultation is required on some parts of the proposals, specifically with stakeholders where there is an interface with the England Hockey Leagues e.g. Regional Leagues and Officiating bodies. This consultation work will begin immediately.

- No changes will be made until the 2019-20 season and therefore there are no implications for finishing positions for clubs in the 2017-18 season.

As discussions on the details progress England Hockey will communicate further information before Christmas 2017.

If you wish to see the initial proposals or discuss this further please contact rich.beer@englandhockey.co.uk