So there’s been no love so far for either halving the size of Division 1 or removing promotion and relegation. But perhaps Option 3 is James Turner’s suggestion: re-inflate Division 1 to 12 teams, so at least 3 teams will be fighting to avoid 2 relegation places. (Or even to 13, which would equalise the whites and blacks.)
What if we tried a one-off “reset” of Division 1’s membership, but without removing promotion and relegation? On the basis that a team who didn’t care very much to be the 10th team in a league of 10, might feel better about it if they could collude with two other teams, ahead of the League Meeting, to all enter Division 1 at the same time?
(Regarding the other two divisions, I would prefer 12-8-10 to 12-11-7, with a mid-season split in Division 2. Firstly because Division 2 is “sticky” – if after a season you need to juggle the numbers, you can usually convince teams to come up to Division 2 faster than you can convince them to drop down to Division 3. Secondly because leaving Alnwick in a 10-team Division 3 rather than a 7-team Division 3 means you can give everyone else 4 homes, 4 aways and 1 Alnwick-away.)
The “Big 8” clubs right now are Durham City, Forest Hall, Gosforth, Jesmond, Leam Lane, Morpeth, South Shields and Tynemouth. That leaves 4 places. Which of the following teams/clubs would be willing to join a 12-team Division 1 with three of the others?
Forest Hall 2nd team – YES
Tynemouth 2nd team – YES
Morpeth 2nd team
South Shields 2nd team – YES
Gosforth 2nd team
Leam Lane 2nd team
Jesmond 2nd team
Durham City 2nd team