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How hockey is dealing with promotion and relegation as season declared finished



Lisnagarvey are expected to be crowned EY Irish Hockey League champions.

Lisnagarvey are expected to be crowned EY Irish Hockey League champions.

Lisnagarvey are expected to be crowned EY Irish Hockey League champions.

Hockey Ireland announced yesterday that all activity in the sport will remain suspended due to the coronavirus crisis and the current season is to be considered as finished.

Rather than trying to complete the various leagues and cups across the country by resuming in the summer, there will be no more matches before the 2020/21 campaign.

However, the leagues have not been declared null and void and, instead, the current standings are to be taken into account in a bid to settle the various issues at every level across the country.

This will be done by a Hockey Ireland Competitions Working group, consisting of representatives from the Board, its Competitions Committee, and representatives from the each of the four branches.

In a statement, Hockey Ireland said: "The Competitions Working Group's proposals, addressing the postponement or cancellation of fixtures, the final league standings, promotion and relegation, and possible European spots for the 2020/21 season will then go to the Hockey Ireland Board for consideration and approval."

After the original deadline was due to expire on Sunday, the decision to extend the suspension of all hockey activity was no surprise.

But the way ahead will not be as straightforward and there are bound to be clubs disappointed.

Promotion and relegation looks set to now be determined by current league positions, perhaps on a percentage basis around the ratio of points gained to games played with goal difference coming into play if needed.

In the IHL, for example, Linzi Hamilton's Belfast Harlequins ladies are currently five points adrift at the bottom and could now face automatic relegation even though they are not mathematically down as things stand with Annadale men in a similar situation.

Lisnagarvey, in contrast, are five points clear at the top of the IHL and so one would expect James Corry's team to be crowned champions and qualify for Europe.

Whatever transpires, the means of calculating finishing positions in the various leagues from top to bottom tier will be the same at every level across the country, with the final decisions to be announced by April 12.

Belfast Telegraph