In detail: Fixtures and structure for 2020/21 Mens & Women's Hockey Leagues

Surbiton's Women Celebrate 2019 League Finals
Earlier this summer, England Hockey announced a ‘split league’ structure in the Men's and Women's Premier Divisions after unveiling the Men's and Women's Hockey League fixtures for 2020/21.

Taking into account the decisions made at the end of 2019/20 to manage the outcome of the curtailed season, there are some significant changes to the Premier Divisions for 2020/21. These changes followed a discussion and consultation with the Premier Division clubs over the past months. 

In 2020/21, the Premier Division (with 11 teams) will see every team play each other once before Christmas in Phase 1, before splitting into two pools made up of the top six and lower five teams.

After Christmas, Phase 2 will see teams in the lower five play each other twice, while teams in the top six face the other teams in the group once. We hope this will support more 'best vs best hockey'; provide a structure where ‘every game matters’; optimise Euro Hockey League/European Club Championships preparation and support international players' immersion in the England Hockey League.

The Premier Division will start this weekend on 19/20 September and Division One/Conferences on 26/27 September. Obviously, the season will all continue to be led by the Return to Play Roadmap.

Premier Division

2020/21 EHL Premier Division Structure
(Click on the photo to download a higher resolution version of the graphic)

The changes to Premier Divisions are a result of a discussions with clubs during June and July 2020. Having considered the outcome of the 2019/20 season and reflected on the circumstances facing the Premier Divisions in 2020/21, a process was put together with discussion papers and online forums held with participating clubs. We are grateful for the time and effort that clubs gave in responding to the consultation.

The 2020/21 season is particularly challenging for the top level of domestic hockey with elite clubs and players facing a number of issues, including potential implications of COVID-19 and a congested and challenging season with England Hockey League, two EuroHockey Leagues/European Club Championships, FIH Hockey Pro League, European Championships and Olympic Games.

Striking the right balance for the top level of domestic hockey is a difficult challenge given the competing pressures of jobs for the majority of players, European club commitments for a proportion of players and international hockey for some players. At England Hockey we aspire to work more closely with elite clubs and, over the coming years, we want to support and align the top of domestic hockey and international hockey much more. We’re excited to see how this works in 2020/21 and we hope that this approach will be a step forward. The structure as the Premier Divisions will be as follows:

In the first half of the season (Phase 1), each team will play each other once, either home or away. There are 11 rounds of fixtures and each team will play five home and five away fixtures with one free date. The fixture list has been devised to endeavour to balance travel for teams. Fixtures will run from 19 September to 13 December with some breaks when the Great Britain teams are involved in FIH Hockey Pro League matches. 

When all teams have played each other once, the table will be split for Phase 2. All points earned in Phase 1 will carry over to Phase 2. The top six teams will play each other once either home or away, i.e. five further rounds of matches. Teams will have two or three home games - those who finish in the top three of the table at the end of Phase 1 will have the extra home game.

The lower five teams will play each other twice both home and away (i.e. 10 further rounds of matches), with each team playing eight matches and having two free dates.

The team finishing top of the Phase 2 top six table when all matches have been played will be champions and the other five teams will be ranked in order from second to sixth.

The team finishing top of the Phase 2 lower five table when all matches have been played will be ranked seventh and the other four teams will be ranked in order from eighth to eleventh. 

It is planned for the Premier Divisions to return to 10 teams for 2021/22, although this will be reviewed during 2021. If it does, teams ranked from first to eighth will play in the Premier Division in 2021/22 and the teams ranked tenth and eleventh will be relegated to Division One. The team ranked ninth will face a play-off against the loser of the Division One North & South winners play-off for the final place. The winner of the Division One North & South winners play-off will also be promoted. 

Division One & Conferences
The make-up of Division One North and South and the three Conferences are shown below.

2020/21 Men's Division One Map

2020/21 Men's Conferences Map

2020/21 Women's Division One Map

2020/21 Women's Conferences Map