Having been suitably boxed into a corner...Michael Farthing wrote:Alex, do you regard it as acceptable that the National Counties Championship is so structured that two particular counties are guaranteed a place in the National Stages every year while other counties have to compete for a place?
Let me answer the question in a rather roundabout way. If I were running an English County Championship, starting tomorrow, then this would probably be the format.
Everyone would send an entry form and the money to the ECF, and the ECF would then look at however many counties have entered a section, and put them in regional groups of, say, 4-6 county teams. But you'd aim for 2 or 4 (or maybe even 8 ) groups.
At the end of the regional groups, the winners (or maybe top 2) would qualify for the Knockout stage, which would proceed as normal.
So you wouldn't have the Union stage at all, which I think would have advantages:
(1) The Greater Manchester joining the NCCU issue would be something we can move on from
(2) You are guaranteed a reasonable number of group matches, so (say) Lancashire and Yorkshire might end up in a group with counties like Greater Manchester, Derbyshire or Lincolnshire. And this would retain the current situation where you have relatively minimal travelling, too.
I think that format would be superior to the existing format, but the Union turkeys aren't going to vote for Christmas.
As long as we have a Union structure, then I don't see the problem can be solved.