PARLEY CC have once again been refused promotion into the Southern Premier League, even though they won the Hampshire League championship last year.
On-going accreditation issues have torpedoed Parley’s ambitions, with the previous season’s outfield marks not achieving the SPL’s bronze accreditation requirements.
With the local West Parley Parish Council having recently taken back the ownership of the pavilion and sports field off Christchurch Road following the expiry of the previous lease, and adult football no longer being played on the outfield, Parley’s cricketers hoped they would be given the green light to play Division Three cricket in 2020.
Instead, they will remain in County Division One, with third-placed Gosport Borough elevated back to SPL3 in their place, alongside Hook & Newham Basics seconds, who finished runners-up.
Explaining the SPL’s stance, chairman Steve Vear said: “Parley’s outfield mark for 2019 was scored at 6.20, using the standard SPCL methodology and, as such, does not meet the minimum requirement of bronze accreditation at this time.”
He added: “Premier League rules provide that ‘any new club wishing to enter the SPL must give proof of a minimum of 15 years security of tenure of their club and ground’.
“While assurances have been given as to the existence of formal confirmation that a 15-year lease will be in place legally prior to the start of the 2020 season, this had not been produced by 31st August 2019, as required under the league’s accreditation requirements.
“The SPL does accept that conversations with the West Parley Parish Council had been developing and that there was clear intention to put some things in place – but nothing concrete was provided, and certainly not before the 31st August deadline.”
Mr Vear confirmed the Premier League was keen to support Parley in gaining the necessary accreditation entry and is already in contact with the club to set up next step discussions.
Parley chairman Mark Barber said his club has had many long and detailed discussions as to its future direction.
“The decision to not allow Parley into the Southern Premier League has had many implications throughout the club. Players and officials who have put years of effort into reaching the SPL are now questioning their commitment to the club and cricket as a whole, with a number of lead players linked with moves elsewhere,” he said.
“Whilst the Southern Premier League has no direct link with grassroots cricket, the decisions that it makes can have a huge impact on the amount of people actively involved in the game.
“The SPL’s accreditation process has not changed since 2000, during which time participation levels in the United Kingdom and in Hampshire have seen a sharp decline.
“With so much effort being put into achieving our County One status, we have decided to try and maintain our position in this league, and as such we will aim to obtain the required accreditation standards again.”
Mr Barber continued: “We have made huge advances in the standard of the outfield. The removal of adult football is already showing huge improvements in this area.
“We plan to take up the Premier League’s to help us ensure that we have a lease/agreement in place to satisfy the accreditation requirements.
“We have played cricket on the current West Parley site for over 70 years, and the land is protected by a covenant to enable cricket to be played. The old lease ended August 2019, and all users are working with the Parish Council to ensure security of tenure moving forwards.
“We are aware that there are other clubs in a similar position to us, and we await a reply to our request for a meeting with all the relevant parties to move this forward and to show a commitment to our current players that the Southern Premier League will allow us promotion should we fulfil the accreditation requirements.”