Cullyhanna propose relegation restructure

St Patrick’s Cullyhanna have proposed a restructure of how relegation works and want to link the league and championship.

Should a team finish in the bottom two of Division 1B or 2B, they have a chance to save themselves via the championship.

The motion will be voted on at next Monday’s County Board meeting. The motion is explained in further detail below with a Q&A.

What is the motion trying to achieve?

To correct what we suggest is the main unfairness in the current system, that teams can lose their championship status based solely on league matches, the large majority of which they may have to play without their most important players due to the split season and the demands of intercounty football.

What would the motion do?

Instead of being automatically relegated to the lower grade league and championship, the bottom 2 teams in Senior B and Intermediate B will have a chance to save themselves through the championship system. This is the point in the season when all teams will have full player availability. If any of the bottom 2 teams in Senior B or Intermediate B finish in the top 3 in their championship group, they will enter relegation playoffs (if they finish bottom of their championship group, they are automatically relegated at that point.)

Photo Credit: Richiespics

How would the relegation playoffs work?

Up to 6 teams would potentially be involved. The 2 teams finishing bottom in the B section of the league and the 4 teams who finish bottom of their championship group. In a 6-team playoff situation, the 4 teams who were bottom of the championship groups would play each other in 2 random ties. The winners of those games are safe. The losers play the 2 league teams with the loser of both these games being relegated.

If there are 4 teams in the playoffs (1 through the league and 3 through the championship), then 2 semi-finals will be played with the 2 losers entering a final playoff, the loser of this game is relegated (a second team will already have been relegated by finishing in the bottom 2 in the league and bottom of their championship group)

Is it not unfair that a team that has done well in the league (potentially in the A section) could end up relegated?

First of all, there is no perfect system and there will be perceived unfairness in any scenario. We would argue that the current situation faced by clubs providing our county side with players is much more unfair. As a county we made the decision years ago to link the league and championship which has worked well for the competitiveness of our leagues. As a county, us clubs in Armagh already accept a situation whereby a team could finish midtable in Intermediate or Junior B and be promoted 2 Divisions higher by winning the championship. This motion is effectively a similar tweak to provide the potential for relegation as well as promotion through the championship.

If a team finishes above the bottom 2 of the B league, they will only be relegated if they finish bottom of their championship group and lose 2 playoff games (except potentially in the very unlikely scenario that a team finishing in the bottom 2 of a B league wins the championship). The championship is the pinnacle of the club season with full player availability. If a side finishes bottom of a group of 4 and then loses 2 playoff games, we would argue that it is reasonable for them to drop down a grade.

Photo Credit: Chris Totton

When would the relegation playoffs be played?

That is a matter for CCC, but it would seem sensible to play these games around the time our championships are concluding. That’s assuming the teams in the bottom 2 of the B section of the league are eliminated from the championship. Many other counties have championship relegation playoffs at this time of the season. We would expect that these extra games would be well attended and fiercely competitive.

Will this take away from the competitiveness of our leagues?

We see no reason why it would. Teams will still be striving for promotion, championship seeding and to avoid the bottom 2 in the B section. The relegation playoffs provide a safety net for 4 teams (2 Senior & 2 Intermediate), but they will still be in significant danger of relegation. There are significant consequences to finishing in those bottom 2 spots in the B league sections.

Photo Credit: Sinead Snaps

Worked Examples

Example 1

Team A and Team B finish in the bottom 2 of Senior B league. Both Team A and Team B also finish bottom of their championship group. There are no relegation playoffs, and both Team A and Team B are relegated to Intermediate A.

Example 2 

Team A and Team B finish in the bottom 2 of Senior B league. In the 4 championship groups, Teams A, C, D & E finish bottom of the 4 championship groups. Team B finishes third in their group and is eventually eliminated from the championship at the quarter final stage.

Team A is automatically relegated. Teams B, C, D and E enter the relegation playoffs. They are drawn against either in 2 semi-finals, which are won by teams D and E. Team B plays Team C in the final relegation playoff with the loser relegated to intermediate.

Example 3

Team A and Team B finish in the bottom 2 of Senior B league. In the 4 championship groups, Teams C, D, E & F finish bottom of the 4 championship groups. Teams A and B both finish third in their group and are eliminated from the championship in the first knockout round.

Teams A, B, C, D, E & F all enter the relegation playoffs. C, D, E, F are drawn against each other in 2 preliminary playoffs which are won by Teams C & D. Teams E and F are then drawn against either Team A or Team B in two relegation playoffs. The loser of both of these games is relegated to Intermediate.