BOWLERS have rejected a suggestion that games in their league should be contested by teams made up of fewer players.

A proposal for matches to become 10-a-side was narrowly defeated during the Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association’s annual meeting on Friday.

However a number of clubs represented at Owley Wood Club warned they may withdraw teams as a result.

They have until next Friday to make a decision.

“For me, it would be a backwards move,” said Ray Brandreth, chairman of the special council, before asking delegates to comment.

“However I don’t think we have much choice if there is a risk we might lose teams.”

Members at Rudheath, with backing from their counterparts at Wharton Rec, tabled a motion to switch from 12-a-side.

All but one of the association’s 34 member clubs cast a vote, and they decided against a change.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over,” said Dave Wilding, secretary at Rudheath.

“We feel now is the time to move to 10-a-side, something that almost happened when we voted on it two years ago.

“It will help the game because clubs are starting to struggle for numbers.”

Brian Davies, his counterpart at Wharton Rec, agreed.

The Winsford club fielded two teams last year, something he warned they would find hard to do again after registering 25 bowlers for a new season.

“We may have to pull one out,” he said.

“And other clubs will have the same dilemma.”

Representatives from the league’s most successful clubs, Castle and Wharton Cons, said they could not support their neighbours.

“Isn’t it our duty to promote the sport?” asked Ray Plant, secretary at the Northwich club.

“We can’t say we’re fulfilling that if we take away opportunities to play.

“There were 61 teams in the league in 2017; if we go to 10-a-side, then that’s 122 bowlers that won’t get a game each week.

“Why is there a shortage of players? And are we doing enough to address it?”

He received backing from the Winsford outfit.

Alan Vickers said: “We’re working hard to try and recruit people.

“I think we need to be careful what we wish for, and coming down to 10-a-side will create new problems.

“People aren’t going to hang around if they’re not playing regularly.”

In his report, league results secretary Dave Jones revealed that there were 65 walkovers in games last season due to teams not having enough players on a match-night.

He said: “There are different reasons for that.

“However clubs need to make sure they can fulfil fixtures throughout the season so as to not give away chalks that could have an influence on the final standings.”

Representatives from Bunbury, Hazel Pear, Spinner & Bergamot and Tarporley RBL all indicated after the vote that the future of their teams in the league is now in serious doubt.

Peter Kelly, a special council member who was also confirmed as association president at the meeting, warned that match and registration fees may increase if there are fewer teams.

In turn, that could mean less prize money on offer for competition winners.

A proposal for team knockout ties to be 10-a-side also did not receive enough support.