Cricket: Player row must end, urges Tunnicliffe
KEITH Tunnicliffe says the North Staffs and South Cheshire League will become a "laughing stock" unless a line is drawn under the saga which has rocked the competition this year.
Eight clubs suffered points deductions for flouting rules after players were found to have been plying their trade in other competitions on Sundays.
That contravened regulations which were voted in by clubs last year following a review of league rules.
Punishments were handed out to Cheadle, Little Stoke, Leycett, Norton, Blythe, Newcastle and Hartshill, Eccleshall and Woore to cast a shadow over the summer.
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Club representatives met recently to discuss ways of finding a solution to the issue.
In a statement released to clubs, league manager Tunnicliffe accepts the situation could have been handled better.
But he insists now is the time for the matter to be concluded to prevent further damage to the NSSCL's reputation.
"There is a certain amount of sympathy for those clubs who have had points deducted, especially those whose player or players went behind their back to play in another league," he said.
"At this moment in time all reports have been investigated and dealt with, so I sincerely hope this is the appropriate time for common sense to prevail.
"Unless we want to become the laughing stock of the sporting world (not just cricket), we should draw a line under this debacle immediately.
"Hard luck to those clubs who have been punished – take it on the chin, man up, learn from any mistakes, and come back wiser and stronger.
"Good luck to those clubs who have not fallen foul of the rule – you are obviously on the ball or very fortunate.
"I think everyone on the Executive Board will agree that things may have been handled better.
"A statement may have been issued earlier, it may have been worded slightly differently, but hindsight is a wonderful thing."
Suggestions being mulled over by clubs include docking points for next season if new cases come to light or setting aside the rule and returning all deductions to teams.
This is despite the fact that 44 of the 48 member clubs voted in favour of bringing in the rule 12 months ago.
The league were forced to clarify the regulations in August to make midweek competitions and second XI cricket, among others, exempt from the ruling as the number of implicated clubs rose into double figures.
"The vengeance, back biting, and amount of time being spent by individuals and their clubs in an effort to catch another club's player was getting out of hand," added Tunnicliffe.
"The Executive Board previously said they would continue to look at reports even after the annual meeting on November 15, meaning potential negative points totals for clubs at the start of the 2013 season.
"But to retain some respect for the league, may I ask that we close this issue immediately. Enough is enough. No retrospective change of rule, no uneven number of clubs in divisions, no changes to penalties already issued."
The league have proposed the rule is scrapped at next Thursday's annual meeting.
But Tunncliffe says this is not an admission the rule was wrong, but merely allows member clubs to decide if they want the regulation in place.
"Abolishing the rule would leave each club to dictate its own policy on regulating the movement of its players," explained Tunnicliffe.
"I just wish that an end be brought to this distasteful mess immediately."