The Committee decision was announced at last Sunday's annual meeting in Sheffield, where chairman David Andrews said the move had been “reluctantly” agreed due to a shortage of officials. The League, he said, had been very vocal about the urgent need for more volunteer support, but requests had been largely ignored.
He added: “The current programme comprising 48 weekend events is unsustainable and was only maintained last season thanks to a small number of officials who went above and beyond in their commitment to the League. The aim is to guarantee BWPL’s future as the cornerstone of water polo in this country.”
Step by step, BWPL will reduce from 64 teams to 40 over the next three seasons, like this:
2022/23 First phase as normal – 5 men’s divs, 3 women’s. Phase 2: Super 5s, men’s Champ 1 and 2, women's Champ 1. No men’s Champ 3 and 4 or women’s Champ 2.
2023/24 First phase, 4 men’s divs (no Div 5). 3 women’s divs. Phase 2: Men’s Super 5s, Champ 1 and 2; women’s Super 5s, Champ 1.
2024/25 First phase: 3 men’s divs (no Div 4), 2 women’s (no Div 3). Phase 2: Men’s Super 5s, Champ 1 and 2; women’s Super 5s, Champ 1.
Promotion/relegation tournaments will take place – for example, bottom teams in a division challenged by top from the division below. This will give every team currently in the League an opportunity to retain playing membership in 2024/25.