BOLTON League chairman Mike Hall can envisage a time when Lancashire bowler Oliver Newby could play for Westhoughton, but not until every club in the league agrees to a change in the rules.
He defended the league’s decision not to allow Westhoughton to register Newby as an amateur player, reiterating their stance that the current constitution does not allow it.
But Hall agrees it could be in the league’s interest to change its rules in the future.
“From a personal point of view, I would like to see standards improve,” he said.
“And if Bolton League clubs want to attract players of the calibre of Oliver Newby to the league then the league should be working hard to make sure we have got the right rules in the constitution to allow that to happen.
“If clubs wish to make proposals and amendments to our rules then the clubs are within their rights to put these forward at the next AGM.
“It may well be the case that at this year’s AGM we will see a proposal to put forward a rule that will allow the likes of Oliver Newby to play, and that might happen.”
The Newby decision has proved contentious, with players and officials from Bolton League clubs continuing the debate on social media sites and in The Bolton News.
While Westhoughton highlighted parallels in other leagues, such as the Liverpool Competition, where county players had been allowed to turn out as amateurs, many held the view that was not in the spirit of the amateur game.
Neither Lancashire County Cricket Club nor the Lancashire Cricket Board would have any objection to Newby playing for Westhoughton as an amateur.
But Hall stands by the original ruling.
“There has been a great deal said and written about the league’s decision,” added Hall.
“The rules and competitions sub-committee dealt with the application in line with the constitution and concluded he was not eligible.
“The appeals panel supported the original decision, in line with rule 13a of the constitution (which states a player cannot be registered by a club in the Bolton League if already registered in another league). The panel also took into consideration the competition rules of our governing bodies, the England Cricket Board and the Lancashire Cricket Board and noted Newby would not have been eligible either.
“It would have been innappropriate for the panel to have come to any other decision because they are not empowered to do that. Whether you agree that is right or wrong, that is the position we find ourselves in. But I believe players, clubs and the management committee all want to see the league improve and I hope to see us all working together to achieve that.”