As advised to England Hockey League clubs on 17 July, pursuant to EHL Regulations 14.1 and 14.3.1, Bowdon and Leicester City - with the support of Wapping - lodged an Appeal Notice in respect of the decision made in respect of concluding the 2019/20 season that was confirmed by the England Hockey Board on 28 April. The Appeal was then stayed to enable a process of alternative dispute resolution to take place. No resolution was reached and so the Appeal proceeded.
The Appellants were seeking: A direction that the EHCD (England Hockey Competitions Department) and/or England Hockey adopt an Alternative Proposal, annexed to the Appeal Notice, contended to be the most reasonable, proportionate, fair and equitable means of concluding the 2019/20 EHL season; Further or alternatively, a direction that the Decision is remitted to the EHCD, in accordance with a clear timetable for consultation that will properly provide all relevant stakeholders with an opportunity to convey their views of EHCD/England Hockey’s decision on the conclusion of 2019/2020 EHL season, well in advance of the forthcoming season. The England Hockey Appeal Panel have now made its decision in respect of the Appeal and the Appeal has been dismissed and deposit forfeited. Full reasons for this have been communicated to the appellants but in summary these are as below.
This is an Appeal from a Decision of the EHCD, albeit also endorsed by EH Pursuant to EHL Regulation 2.1, the EHCD reserves the power to vary the EHL Regulations if necessary for the proper administration of the EHL; The EHCD is not under an express, or implied, duty to consult with the Elite Domestic Game Panel, or more widely, before exercising this power; In fact there was some consultation, understandably in the circumstances urgent and limited; Whatever method to decide the standings at the end of the 2019-20 season and the structure of the 2020-21 season had been adopted, it would have been inevitable that some teams would have felt disadvantaged. The Decision made is well within the range of reasonable decisions that could have been made in the circumstances and is both fair and necessary for the proper administration of the EHL. As previously noted, it had not been possible to confirm details of the 2020/21 season pending the outcome of the appeal.
Following this decision the EHCD will confirm divisional line-ups, fixtures and the Premier Division calendar for 2020-21 on Wednesday 12 August. Fixtures will be scheduled with start dates as previously advised to clubs; 19-20 September for the Premier Division, 26-27 September for all other divisions. This will, of course, remain under review in line with our Return to Play plans.
This information has been communicated to EHL clubs.