THE ALL Rounder Cricket Bradford Premier League could have to stage all second-team cricket without any of their association umpires within two years if numbers continue to decline at their current rate.

That's the view of Neil Johnson, appointment secretary of the Bradford Premier League Umpires’ Association, who also fears that first-team games will be affected if the trend carries on.

In his report at the association's recent annual meeting at Cleckheaton Sports Club, he said: “Every year it gets harder being able to get the required number of umpires to the required games.

“Over a season, we have 528 first team games to cover, and this year, due to our numbers and only covering two of the second-team divisions, a further 264, so we need at least 60 umpires every week.

“As of tonight, we only have 76 active umpires on ‘Who’s the Umpire’ (last year at this time it was 90).

“That number of 60, with only one umpire at the Premier and Division One second-team games, (means) we are getting very thin on the ground.

“We desperately need more umpires, we need more ex-players to join our ranks. If our numbers continue to fall, within two years we will not be able to umpire second-team games, and then first-team games will follow.

“We need help from all quarters to recruit new umpires - the league, the clubs and ourselves.

“I, unlike other leagues locally, will not go out and poach umpires. If they wish to come of their own accord, so be it but I feel let down when some are prepared to move for the offer of a few more pounds per game.”

The Bradford Premier League’s cricket development officer Alan Birkinshaw said the recruitment of umpires is to be the number one priority of the management board.

Two training courses have already been arranged for early in the new year.

The league is offering to pay the course fees for all candidates who go on to become members of the umpiring panel or serve as club umpires throughout the 2019 season.

The courses will be staffed by ECB ACO tutors and will prepare candidates for the challenge of umpiring in the Bradford Premier League.

A Stage One course will be held on Saturday, January 26 and February 2 from 10am to 4.30pm. The Stage Two course is being held on February 2 and 9 from 10am to 4.30pm.

Umpires’ chairman Philip Radcliffe said in his third annual report: “We need the help of clubs. Otherwise numbers will decrease on an annual basis due to the age profile of our umpires."

He added: “The differing number of umpires each week has made the job very difficult for our appointment secretaries, just in ensuring there was at least one qualified umpire available.

“Reluctantly we agreed there would be no umpires appointed to Championship Two and Conference second XIs, and, where possible, at least one umpire would be appointed to other second XI cricket."

Meanwhile, the umpires’ association have given their executive committee permission to open negotiations about becoming part of the Bradford Premier League.

A vote was taken at the umpires’ annual meeting, and it was 30-25 in favour of starting discussions.

David Ellis became a life member after completing 21 years with the association, and received a tankard at the league dinner.

To register for either of the umpire courses, contact Philip Radcliffe on 07740 853047 or email