DESPITE AN exodus of clubs, chairman Nigel Tench is confident the JW Lees Brewery Pennine Cricket League will survive.
Mr Tench believes the league can still be viable, even though half the 24 clubs are leaving at the end of the season.
And to provide new interest, Pennine League officials have entered into discussions with the merged Bolton League and Bolton Association about holding a cup competition involving clubs from the two leagues.
Mr Tench added that the situation will be clearer by the end of June which is the deadline for clubs to resign from the league.
As things stand at the moment:
Littleborough, Middleton, Norden, Rochdale and Walsden have resigned to join the Lancashire League that is expanding from 2018.
Greenfield, Moorside, Glodwick, Royton, Heyside, Shaw and Monton & Weaste have sent in letters of intent to join the Greater Manchester League.
The eight remainders are Ashton, Austerands, Friarmere, Hollinwood, Micklehurst, Oldham, Stayley and Uppermill.
Crompton, Milnrow, Saddleworth and Werneth are reported to still be considering their futures.
Mr Tench added league officials have held discussions with the “remainers” who have formed their own sub-committee to liaise with clubs.
Reflecting on the departure of the clubs that followed a hugely successful first season for the Pennine League, Mr Tench said: “My over-riding emotion is one of disappointment as to what has happened.
“I have been involved in local cricket for more than 50 years – I made by debut for Middleton in 1964 and became a league representative in 1973 and involved in the league since them – and it has certainly been the most traumatic time.
“The cricket has been no problem – that’s fine and has competitive – all the problems have been off the field.”
And reflecting on the season so far, Mr Tench says there have been a number of upsets in recent weeks including Uppermill beating Milnrow and Glodwick overcoming Norden.
The performance that has impressed Mr Tench most was Rochdale amassing 249 from 20 overs in a rain affected league game against Heyside, Australian professional Henry Cooper scoring a superb century.