AFTER opinions were voiced one way and then the other at the Aire-Wharfe League’s AGM in October, it was always likely that the vote on reverting back to separate first and second XI competitions was going to be close.

However, few at the league’s annual meeting at Otley Rugby Club realised just how close.

There were 16 votes in favour of going back to only first teams v first teams and second teams v second teams (as was the case in 2018), but there were 17 against, meaning that the proposal failed.

That means that the second teams of Rawdon and North Leeds will remain in Division Three for next season and will be joined by Ilkley’s second team, who were promoted from Division Four as runners-up behind Menston firsts.

However, the vote also denies Shadwell’s first team ‘promotion’ as they finished third in Division Four and would have automatically been promoted had the proposed rule change got through.

An even tighter vote was whether to switch to 12.30pm starts.

A total of 16 clubs were in favour and 16 against, with one club abstaining, meaning that the proposal failed and start times will therefore remain at 1pm.

Another proposal that failed was to make Division Four (which includes the first XIs of Shadwell and St Chads Broomfield) play under the same rules as divisions One to Three - I.e. 50 overs per innings and leg-side wides – but that received only 12 votes for and 20 against, again with one abstention.

Lovers of the days when the Aire-Wharfe League had such stellar names in their ranks as former Australian Test batsman Dean Jones were handed a boost when the restriction on overseas players not being allowed to play in the league if they have played first-class cricket in the previous five years was removed.

A total of 19 were in favour of this and 14 against.

All matches will be on Live Scoring next season, with the home club responsible for it (passed 27-6), while promotion and relegation will be introduced to third-team cricket on Sundays (if there are at least two divisions) as 22 were in favour and two against, with nine abstentions.

The make-up of the management committee was almost finalised, with one vacancy now remaining after eight of the nine candidates were voted on, after Danny Bell dropped out.

The votes in favour were: 31 David Bell, M Dearden, B Morley, M Sugden; 30 P Roe; 29 H Smallwood; 26 R Bleasdale; 25 Daniel Bell (withdrew); 22 R Bielby (all of the above were voted onto the committee); 19 S Hills.

Election of officers – President, M Shaw; vice-president, D House; treasurer, D Threlfall; secretary, M Grimes; assistant secretary, M Hillas; auditor, J White; solicitor, N Thackray.