THE Bradford Premier League Umpires' Association are no more.

They opted unanimously to dissolve their independent organisation at their annual meeting this month and join the newly-formed Match Officials' Organisation as part of the Bradford Premier League.

"We are in effect the 49th club," said Umpires' Association secretary David Ratcliffe at their final annual meeting at Cleckheaton Sports Club.

The move, which was initially discussed at the umpires' annual meeting a year ago, has therefore now been ratified following an Umpires' Association extraordinary general meeting last month.

Umpires' chairman Philip Radcliffe explained: "The league's management board then set up a steering group of three members of the Umpires' Association and three members of the Bradford Premier League management board, and we have met several times since last year.

"One of the reasons for the move is financial - membership will be £10 instead of £30 - and the league will also pay the honararia for the two appointments secretaries."

The league’s data and communications officer Alan Birkinshaw will chair the new Match Officials' Association.

He said: “I would like to thank Philip Radcliffe, his executive committee and the membership of the Umpires' Association for the positive way in which they have responded to the process of change.

“We want the new organisation to have a stronger focus on training and upskilling of umpires and scorers.

“The steering group will now map out the way forward and communicate to the membership the aims and objectives.

“Recruiting more umpires remains a core aim as well as making all our umpires feel valued. We want to understand their issues and provide the support they need.”

Meanwhile, the funds of the Bradford Premier League Umpires' Association will be ring-fenced in the Derek Shuttleworth Memorial Fund, which is to be used for the training of umpires and scorers.

It is planned that the new association will meet monthly from next month at Cleckheaton Sports Club.

These meetings will be held on January 30, March 31, April 9, May 14, June 11, July 9, August 13, September 17 and the annual meeting is set for October 29.

Refresher training for existing umpires has been arranged for the new year at three venues.

There will be sessions at Keighley Cricket Club on February 10, 17 and 24, at Pudsey Congs Cricket Club on February 5, 12 and 19 and at Ossett Cricket Club on March 4, 11 and 18.

The Match Officials' Association and the league's management board continue to make the recruitment of additional umpires a key factor.

Clubs are to be urged to find candidates to attend the next Level One and Two training course, which will be held at Pudsey Congs on Saturdays February 22 and 29.