LOSTOCK captain Rob Holgate, the initial proposer of the Bolton League’s new two-tier structure, is hopeful it will pave the way for a bright future for the competition.

From next summer, the 18-team BCL will be played across divisions of 10 teams and eight.

Promotion and relegation will remain, with the Association teams playing each other three times throughout the season.

In the Premiership, each team will play each other twice before the division splits into two fives, when a further four fixtures will be played.

Points will be carried forward, with the top five playing for the league title and the Lancashire Knockout places. The bottom five will be playing to avoid relegation.

There are a couple of issues still to be decided – the future of the Peter Stafford Trophy and the number of Lancs Knockout places offered to the Bolton League. It could be four or six. If it is six, the top team of the bottom five will be rewarded.

Holgate said: “When we were called off against Farnworth at the end of July, myself and Simon Booth were chatting, and I mentioned this format to him. He liked it.

“Phil Andrews, Farnworth’s scorer and the league’s acting chairman, was also there, and he summarised it and shared it from there.

“It’s similar to what we had in the old Bolton Association.

“We had 18 teams, you played each other once and then carried your points into three divisions of six.

“I also quite liked the nine-nine idea.

“In that, you would play each other twice in your division, 16 games. Then you’d play every team from the other division once. That would have been 25 games.

“So, assuming 22 weekends, we’d have had to play three Sunday league games. I think that’s why it didn’t get voted in. Had we had two divisions of eight, that would have worked really well.

“But I think this 10-8 structure works best for the 18 clubs.

“There was a 12-6 idea, which was ridiculous. You can’t have a six-team second division and play each other four times. That would have almost been like telling those six, ‘Get lost’.

“As a club, we didn’t just vote for what’s best for us. We looked at the league as a whole. You have to look after everybody.

‘Teams go through cycles. Look at Tonge. They’re at the bottom now, but they went through a hugely successful period in the nineties. Horwich have been at the bottom in the past as well.

“You have to give clubs a chance to come back from disappointing times.

“Will the league thrive? I hope so.

“It’s a good league. It’s good to play locally, which means family members can come and watch and get involved more in the club, and the standard is good.

“Playing each other three times in the bottom league isn’t perfect because, with cup competitions, you could end up playing teams five or six times.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more movement here and there over the next few years because other leagues are recruiting. But we’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed, it works.”

There is a knock-on effect for this season’s BCL, with now only one relegation place from the Premiership.

Adlington are bottom with three rounds remaining.