THE Bolton Cricket League has announced plans which could see it increase by 10 clubs to 24 by 2017.

The proposal comes a day after the proposed Greater Manchester Cricket League revealed its prospectus.

The management committee of the Bolton League have developed a proposal that includes having two divisions, promotion and relegation and recruiting clubs of a high standard from a wide area around Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Bolton League chairman Mike Hall said: "I feel the time is right for divisional cricket for Bolton League clubs so long as the Bolton League strengthens its club base and not weakens it because we are a very, very good league.

A vote will take place on June 22, probably at Tonge Cricket Club, which will need at least 10 of the 14 Bolton League clubs to back the proposals for them to go ahead.

Should that happen the league would immediately look to recruit 10 new clubs over the following 18 months in order for the new two-division structure to be in place for the beginning of the 2017 season.

If only eight or nine clubs vote in favour the idea will be shelved and similar proposals may be reconsidered at the League’s annual general meeting in 2016.

Should fewer than eight clubs vote in favour then no similar plans will be put forward for discussion until the League's AGM in 2018 at the earliest to allow it to look at alternative ways of refreshing the league.

The League is determined to ensure only clubs of a high standard are allowed to join to improve its status as one of the top leagues in the north.

They would be looking for clubs with superior pitches and facilities to the majority of those of its current member clubs and would consider applying for ECB Premier League status.

The League have maintained a representation on the GM League steering group while, as agreed by its member clubs in December, an alternative option would be developed and issued to clubs at the same time as the Greater Manchester proposal was announced on Thursday night.

The League will stage a question and answer session on May 11 at Tonge Cricket Club to discuss the expansion plans to enable clubs to explore the best way forward individually and as a league.

There is likely to be a limit of five representatives from each club allowed at the session who would then report back to their clubs who would make a decision on which way to vote on June 22.

The League's management committee say they understand some clubs may choose to join the new GM League and others may consider an expanded Bolton League.

Under the Bolton League's plans, in the first year clubs would play each other once after which the top 12 would form Division One and the second 12 Division Two.

Four teams would be promoted and four relegated each season as clubs in the top division would be able to qualify for the Lancashire Knockout.

The plan would include the Second Division being kept as strong as possible to minimise the threat of clubs folding or leaving, which would mean clubs still having to comply with current rules regarding Clubmark, professionals, second team and junior cricket.

While the clubs in the lower division would be expected to maintain the standards required at present, clubs in the higher division would be required to set higher standards which would mean in some cases having to make significant improvements to wickets, pitches and facilities, including mobile covers.

One of the major talking points would be the League becoming open to taking clubs from a much wider area.

Twelve of its current 14 clubs are from within the Bolton borough boundary.

The new plan would see them open to clubs from around Greater Manchester and Lancashire with at least five of the 10 new clubs coming from Lancashire Cricket Board-accredited Premier or Semi-Premier Leagues and the others coming from leagues which require clubs to have professionals or overseas players.

The Bolton League say they are keen not to cause the demise of any rival leagues so would not take any more than three clubs from any one league.

And to ensure they created a strong and established league, they would only look to recruit clubs with a stable history who had not been in more than two leagues in the past 10 years, had a reasonable playing standard, at least three victories in the Lancashire Knockout or similar in the past five years and had grounds and facilities which were acceptable to the ground committee.

A decision on which clubs to recruit would be made before the end of May next year to allow clubs to give notice to their leagues by the end of June.

League matches would only be played on Saturdays except for reserve dates on Sundays and the Hamer Cup would include teams from both divisions and would not be seeded and must be finished on the scheduled date due to potentially prohibitive midweek travelling.

Junior cricket would involve leagues being divided on a geographical basis comprising between eight and 12 clubs.

The League would continue to be run by an eight-person management committee elected annually and there would be general committee meetings involving all the clubs.

If three or more clubs from the same league joined the Bolton League, they would be entitled to one representative on the management committee at the expense of one of the existing members for the first two years.