CRICKET chiefs have decided there will be no promotion or relegation this season – when or if the new campaign gets underway.

Both the Vivio Cheshire County League and UK Fast Cheshire League have confirmed this position, while also outlining that this month’s scheduled start to the 2020 term is suspended until safe to consider starting – in line with Government regulations surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and current UK lockdown.

The suspension applies to all levels and ages of recreational cricket.

In addition all games in the Cheshire Cricket Board-sponsored Cheshire Cup and Shield knockouts – due to have commenced in early May – have been suspended.

In an e-mailed notification issued to all county league clubs chairman David Humpage said: “The April management meeting – at which handbooks, fixtures, cricket balls and other key information about the new season is normally provided – has been cancelled. The large supply of balls, provided by Readers, has also been discontinued.”

He added: “All clubs in the league will be hugely disappointed, but I am sure that we all recognise that the decision was inevitable given the nationwide concern at the playing of sport in the UK at the moment.

“Questions are being asked in the media, but noone knows when we can even consider a starting date, as we must obey Government instructions.

“We will have to make a decision later about what to do according to how much time is left.”

League officers agreed that in view of the limited amount of cricket there will be time for in 2020, all the league divisions will recommence in April, 2021, from the positions held at the end of the 2019 season.

Humpage concluded: “Making such a decision early allows member clubs to assimilate the many elements impacting agreements with their players and to maintain our many excellent grounds in good shape.”

Selwyn Stephenson, chairman of the Cheshire League, said: “The ECB statement, following the latest Government advice around social distancing, that all forms of recreational cricket and any associated cricket activity should be suspended is indeed a sad event.

“We must agree, it is in the best interest of all our cricket family, based on the situation we are all now having to face over the coming weeks and months.

“Whilst no indication of any future possible start date to the season can be given, regular updates will be sent and appear on the website in conjunction with advice from the Government and directives from the ECB.

“If cricket does start, then we will obviously have truncated competitions in whatever form they might take given the time left in the season.

“We understand that clubs will be impacted by the current crisis in many different ways and also recognise that any truncated competition may be further impacted by weather. Consequently, because of this uncertainty, there will be no promotion or relegation in the 2020 season. The only exception to this will be if we lose a team or a new team wants to join.

“Defining our thinking this early allows the league and its member clubs to manage the many elements impacting players and officials, particularly those at highest risk, without having to be concerned about playing performance.”

He added: “It is important that we do our utmost to keep all our clubs alive, and our grounds are not allowed to deteriorate.

“The Cheshire Groundsman’s Association have been asked to keep an eye out for possible situations where elderly groundsmen cannot carry out their usual duties due to the current crisis, and to offer assistance, wherever possible, to keep the playing areas up to standard even if we are not actually playing on them.”