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IDTTL League Format

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Mike Chenery - PickwicksPerson was signed in when posted
12:57 PM ET (US)
Thought I would let vent with the thoughts of Pickwicks (A must visit if you need food in Stowmarket!).
As our "B" team have suffered in division three this year with eight blank weeks we are keen to get this sorted for next season.

1) By far the most important! Whatever league system is devised the divisions MUST have an equal number of teams with any blank weeks divided equally amongst them! If that means not all teams get promotion, more are relegated or requests to stay up ignored then so be it. If the rules need changing to achieve this then lets vote on it!

2) With 48 teams at present, four divisions of twelve would be OK. A good suggestion was heard whilst talking to Kingsfleet. A similar problem was experienced in a league in London. They came up with divisions of six with teams playing each other twice before Xmas. Promotion / relegation was two up, two down. The system was then repeated after Xmas.
This system would give some variety of opponents and promotion / relegation would always be a possibility so interest would be maintained! Only drawback I can see is all games in the first half must be played before Xmas.

3) Talk of divisions of eight playing each team three times! Not in favour of this as playing the same team three times is boring! I will also get annoyed at being beaten three times!

Should be an interesting AGM!

MIke - Pickwicks
Steve Branton
02:14 PM ET (US)
Just so people are aware of the restrictions placed upon us when setting up the league: EVERY Division MUST contain the SAME number of teams.

So they must either be all 8 teams, 10 teams, 12 teams etc.

You can however have divisions with a different no. of Blank Teams (as we do now).

HTH. Steve.
Mick Talbot
05:21 AM ET (US)
  I note that my earlier attack has achieved its purpose in generating some responses, so I will change my tenor to something constructive.
Your correspondents have asked what can be done to alter the situation. So, using the 2011-2 league handbook as an example, here is a proposal

1 Divide the whole league up into an even number of divisions (as near as you can) 50 Teams = 4 Divisions (2 of 12 plus 2 of 13)
2 Insert 1 or 2 blank weeks into each Division to get the numbers right (don’t do this in favour of the upper echelons, do it by some form of fair ballot – something as simple as a coin will do)
3 Assess the points won by each team at the Xmas recess,
4 Taking those values move the top three teams up and the bottom three teams down
5 Play the second half with this revised formation

As I see it there are a number of advantages in this format.
A You will be complying with your own rules (Equating the League – which in my view means treating everyone/every team the same)
B It will discourage teams from postponing matches because their “star” is not available, or they can only produce two players
C It will be an incentive to get postponed matches completed in the half season in which they occur, rather than a mad-rush at the end.
D Those teams who consider themselves to be playing below their standard will have both incentive and opportunity to “move-up” for the second half
E It will avoid those at the top and bottom of each division being greatly better or lesser players than their peers for the whole season because they will have been moved up-down for the second half.
F Individuals will see clear reasons from the results tables why their team was moved up/down – reducing the criticism.
G It will probably get noisy people like me off your backs.

You will of course have to make other changes to accommodate this format.
I You will have to establish a clear cut-off date for the completion of games postponed in the first half.
II Where teams are in danger of falling into the “Drop” zone because of un-completed fixtures there will have to be some fine/reward to compensate. I suggest 5 point off the team who brought about the postponement and
 failed to rearrange it, and 5 points awarded to the team who are likely suffer demotion as a result. If they can’t get heir own home-venue Britannia normally has spare capacity which can be used by arrangement
III Your tables showing the position of teams in their division will need to be amended so that it is eminently clear at all times who is likely to go up-down. Could be done with three colours Green for promotion, Red for demotion and Black for OK
IV You may need a longer Xmas recess to assess the changes and get them in place.
V You’ll need to upgrade your communication system. Rather than operating remotely you will have to communicate quickly and effectively with “us”
VI You need to put some sort of restriction on clubs inserting players from the higher echelons into lower divisions simply to “beat-the-system”
VII To avoid the need for young people and women to be about late at night on slippery roads or fog etc, you will need a mechanism to “bend the rules” to suit individual circumstances

As a final comment – don’t consider shifting less than three team’s up-down; that will be perpetuating the current system that which is long overdue for an overhaul.
Brian Blagden
09:21 AM ET (US)
In order to allow for the better players to continue as they are with say 13 teams in the premier and div. 1 leaving (assuming the same number of teams continue) 24 teams. Why not split these into divisions 2 to 5 of 6 teams each playing each other twice before the Christmas break. At this time the top 2 of div. 3,4 & 5 would change places with the bottom 2 teams of div. 2,3 & 4. Then the new divisions would play each other twice over the period after Christmas.
The premier and div. 1 would continue as they are and there would only be relegation and promotion between div.1 and 2 at the end of the season. If you continue to reduce the number of teams in div. 3 you will soon only have 3 divisions (not an ideal way to promote tt).
Richard Goodhand
06:06 PM ET (US)
This topic isn't closed because there is a real opportunity to have a healthy debate which can result in a positive outcome. Following last week's committee meeting, I have contacted all club secretaries to ask them to collect the views of all their teams and report back to me, so we can establish what the general consensus is around the need for changes to the league. There is a copy of the note which I sent posted on to the news section of the website, so you should be hearing from your club secretaries shortly.
Mick Talbot
06:08 AM ET (US)

 The words that I used in my original communication were deliberately chosen to provoke some responses.

 Two correspondents have now used this term, quoting two different examples in support of their claims. These should speak for themselves. As a committee you may not be consciously making any biased decision, but the results of your decisions certainly appear that way.

 I don’t see why some of the correspondents consider there is a need to produce defensive information. No one is accused of discrimination therefore there is no charge to answer. It is my view (opinion) - which I guess I am entitled to.

As I see it.
 So far my comments on this subject have generated arguments, questions and explanations and historical information, none of which do anything to address the situation. I do not detect any recognition that your decisions might (just might) have created a problem of which you are not yet aware: or that there is any enthusiasm to do anything about it – despite it being raised by two correspondents.
 I’m not prepared to pursue this further because I feel that the only exchanges from now on will continue the same vein, which will serve little purpose.

 Please consider the subject closed!
 Jimmy - In response to your points in Item 14
1 Whether we lose a team from the upper echelons because they do not get competitive Table Tennis, or from the lowest because of a perceived problem, the league is still one team less! The view/problem that Brian and I have raised must be addressed!

2 The inclusion of players of Division 1 standard into Division 3 in any numbers would indicate that there is something amiss with the process by which their ability is graded. I would not expect this to happen!
3 In terms of Knock-out Cup and Championships – these are not to everyone’s liking. Two of our team members did take part in the Championships and one gained an award. Most of the team was there to support her at the presentation.
 We do support the championship but not as participants

4 I have chosen not to become involved in the management of Leagues because I do not have any adequately researched or informed opinions on what can be done to improve participation in TT generally. I feel that my expertise is better applied at club level by
 a ensuring that we have properly maintained equipment, and people are safe when visiting Britannia
 b perpetuating the club’s interests by doing things like researching and compiling the information to get “Clubmark” Registration, conducting formal negotiations on behalf of the club etc

PS. Please do not take any of this as a personal assault on anyone – in the using the term “you” I am addressing the management committee as a whole.
02:29 PM ET (US)

I'm not going to go over the reasons why Div 3 has a lower number of teams, Steve has explained this in detail on a number of occassions, and there is no bias going on. In fact a team withdrew from Div 2 after the league started so they have two blank weeks.

Don't you think that we also need to consider the strength of the players/teams when we sort out the teams in each division, instead of a blanket adjustment to make divisions equal? It doesn't help any players regardless of standard if the team is to strong for the division. You could have players/teams stop playing because they are not getting competitive matches?

Perhaps Brian could tell us whether we would want to play players of Divn 1 standard in Division 3 twice in a season?

I'm not sure that the problem is as widespread as you suggest? Can you explain why only 4 teams out of the 10 teams in Div'n 3 have entered the KO Cup if you say they want more games?

Why do I have only 7 players out of 46 that play in Div 3 enter the Ipswich Championships, again if you say they want more table tennis?

Perhaps you could make some suggestions of what we could do to encourage more players to join the league, as last year we had two teams in Divn 2 and two teams in Divn 3 drop out of the league.

I welcome your feedback.
Mick Talbot
06:37 AM ET (US)
Jimmy/Richard/Steve - I’m neither disagreeing with your comments nor trying to belittle anyone’s efforts: and I’m certainly not suggesting that you - as a committee - deliberately make any discriminatory decisions.
This year for instance (From the handbook)
Premier 13 teams 1 Blank week
Divn 1 14 teams 0 Blank weeks
Divn 2 13 teams 1 Blank week
Divn 3 10 teams 4 Blank weeks
 If there is no bias in this then surely both blank weeks and teams would be evenly distributed. (IE All Divns would have 12 or 13 teams and 1 or 2 blank weeks, which is not the case). Your own rules say that you will move teams about to “equate divisions” but it’s difficult to see how having 14 teams in one division and 10 in another is meeting this criterion - whatever the circumstances/reasons. I’m not alone in seeing things this way – look at Brian Bagden’s comment (Item 7). As a committee you need to consider what is happening here very carefully: because for every person that expresses concerns there are a much larger group that remain silent.
  I realise that running a T.T. League takes a lot of work, but this is a problem that you need to address urgently because it is a major disincentive to those playing at the lowest level, which is where most people start playing T.T.
 The point of my comments was not to provoke you into defending yourselves – that achieves nothing - but to consider another way of looking at things!
09:28 AM ET (US)
I agree with Richard your comments are unfounded and extremely unfair on the IDTTL Committee who work tirelessly for the league and have tried a number of things to try and improve TT locally and get more people playing.
Firstly the teams per division have remained equal across all divisions, see below.
Year Premier Div 1 Div 2 Div 3
06-07 14 14 13 13
07-08 13 13 14 14
08-09 14 13 13 13
09-10 13 13 14 13
10-11 14 14 13 13

This year and it has already been explained by Steve Branton on a number of occasions, teams dropped out from div 3, and two teams in Div 3 had significantly strengthen and were moved to a more appropriate division, hence less teams in Div 3.
The IDTTL have introduced a number of ideas to get more Ipswich residents playing TT, as well as enhancing the offer that we already have.
1. The Website is improved and updated regularly, and considered one of the best around.
2. We have offered funding for those that want to become coaches.
3. Purchased extras tables to coach youngsters at Kesgrave Sport Centre and at the same time use these tables for the Ipswich championships and therefore reduce hire costs.
4. The on-line scorecard system set up by Ed Broom has resulted in up to date league tables with instant player averages, Steve Branton has now taken this further so players can see their head to head results. This is way ahead of many leagues!
5. Attracted sponsorship to help fund the Ipswich Championships, so we can play at the “the home of TT” in Ipswich, the Corn Exchange.
6. Ipswich Championships attracts 100 players plus and has been noted as one of the best run leagues tournaments in the country and it’s FREE!
7. We have supported clubs that required upgrading of table or lighting, without which they may not be in existence today.
8. We promoted IDTTL in the buttermaket Shopping Centre and performed exhibition matches to promote our sport.
9. We introduced a handicap event at the Championships so that anyone can come along and play and compete against league players, from which we have had a few new players join the league, again absolutely FREE.
10. League Fees, at 13.50 per player and a share of a team fee of 18 (say 4 to a team) therefore 4.50, in total 18 something like 70p a match, we have made TT affordable to everyone. Half fees for juniors was also introduced, these fees are some of the most competitive around!
I agree we could all do more, Trimley have seen numbers reduce, as has Phoenix, I ran a success Friday night social sessions but this was finished due to lack of interest. There are less venues, hence more teams playing at Britannia, lack of venues don’t help our sport. The juniors that are being coached are not taking up places and playing in the league, for whatever reason, late nights, variable nights, other sports, computers etc.
So we are looking to our league players to make suggestions on what we can do more, as opposed to having a go at the few that give their valuable time to make the IDTTL one of the best leagues around.
Richard Goodhand
01:43 PM ET (US)
Some strong comments there Mick - you could really help our discussions on this topic by letting us know what your actual recommendations are and also which of the earlier suggestions from others hereunder you see as short-term or unworkable. As you are a clear advocate for change, I would definitely like hear more about your ideas please.
As a member of the committee for around 5 years now, I would like to assure you I've never seen any decisions taken by discriminatory means, be it ability-based or otherwise. An unusual set of circumstances, as set out by Steve in an earlier post below, has resulted in what is a regretfully small Division 3. I do understand the frustrations this has caused but I think this is a one-off and not representative of a general bias towards those playing at a higher level.
Mick Talbot
11:56 AM ET (US)
 The current means of allocating teams to divisions is very much one of discrimination by ability. The better you are at TT the more games the League organises for you!
 I did bring this up at an AGM a few years ago when there was a fourth division and those at the top-table agreed to look into it, but very little happened as a result. Since that time the Fourth Div’n has gone, and the “rot” has now moved up to the Third. I can see that very shortly this will also disappear, with the “problem” moving up into the Second.
 As a former Project Manager I suggest that there is one very sensible P.M. adage that must be applied “Nothing will change unless someone changes something”!
 Unless the League management are prepared to be even-handed by applying the same rules at all levels (IE .Stop organising things in favour of the better players) then the ongoing situation will continue. It’s no good the Committee conjuring up short term (and in some cases unworkable) ideas and “fixes”: they must do something positive now; because the longer they leave it, the more radical the solution will have to be. Further procrastination can only result in T.T. locally heading toward unsustainable levels which will cause Ipswich to follow the Stowmarket and Woodbridge Leagues into the history books.
Steve Branton
04:51 AM ET (US)
In order to reduce the risk of losing Division 3, clubs need to generate new teams. Currently there is no way that the no. of juniors being coached + players moving into the area will cover the number leaving the game. Clubs must do more and open themselves to social play - there is no other way for new people to take up the sport without guidance from existing clubs.

Short term measures ie. enforcing a maximum no. of players in a team (there are currently 20 teams with 5 players or more) will only stave off the inevitable for a short period.

The IDTTL Championships have shown there to be outside interest but for this to be maintained new people must have the opportunity to play regularly.

New people approaching clubs have not always had the friendliest of welcomes with league players making no effort to play novice players. This is the first impression some new players get of the IDTTL and it quickly curtails their interest.

Even if individual clubs cannot manage to regularly run open nights, is it possible for a group of like-minded people / clubs to band together and make another venue / social night possible?
Steve Branton
05:56 PM ET (US)
Thanks for your comment Brian.
As always there are a number of sides to the story...

Rosary and Trimley both requested their teams be moved out of Div 3 as they had placed Div 1 and Div 2 standard players in these teams. It was felt that it would be unfair to Div 3 players to make them play these teams.

A team was lost that was relegated from Div 2.
A team was also lost that occupied a position in Div 3.

Thus you have the situation that now exists in Div 3.

The key point that all clubs must realise is that unless clubs start attracting new players and not just inheriting players from other defunct clubs, or just keeping the same old teams chugging along we will see the numbers in the league continue to decrease and the league continue to shrink. How many seasons are left before Div 3 disappears?
Brian Blagden
09:25 AM ET (US)
The make up of the divisions is most unfair to div. 3 players ( 13 teams in prem., div.1, & div.2 but only 10 teams in div. 3). We all pay the same amount to the league yet the league this year 2011/2 has only 10 teams in div. 3.
Why were 4 teams allowed to gain promotion (1 of these teams only finished 5th so did not earn promotion) and only 1 team has come down?
In order to make up for the bias towards higher divisions is it possible that the league can have a Div. 3 only knock out cup in addition to the league and handicap cup.
08:37 AM ET (US)
I agree with Gary, the IDTTL is big enough to accomodate the 12-14 teams and means a good variety of players.
gary young
03:37 PM ET (US)
The problem with smaller leagues in which i have played is,if you have lots of divisions and less teams in them ,is that if those players only play in that league, they are going to have lots of blank weeks and may not play for a number weeks between games ,unless like me you play in lots of different leagues then you get at least a game a week.or if that league has less divisions but more teams is the standard between the bottom team of the div and top is massive meaning that those teams go out and not have a good match because the top team win really easy.or if that league have smaller divisions but they play each other three times ,some players will get fed up playing the same players all the time .so which ever way you go its not going to please everyone.but ipswich is different becuase it a big league you should roughly be able to have 12 teams a division,which means plenty of games over the season and not weeks of not having a game,the standard in each division should be closer than smaller leagues so stops the walk overs,and the players do not have to play the same players all the time so do not get bored.so i think the ipswich format works very well due to its size.
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