YORK Acorn and Heworth ARLFC may renew their rivalry in a new regionalised group format to the National Conference League, following the league’s decision to suspend the 2020 season.

Given the current lockdown measures in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the NCL couldn’t recommence until late July or early August, making it near impossible for the competition to play an entire league season.

A return for professional sport is being targeted for early July, though those matches would only go ahead behind closed doors.

Permission to stage events that will attract more than 500 people, which may include some NCL games, will be further the list of priorities.

Given this, the NCL management unanimously agreed to suspend the 2020 season and instead implement a series of ‘regionalised group’ fixtures, which could see Acorn and Heworth face off.

In a statement to clubs, NCL chairman Trevor Hunt said: “These are tough and unprecedented times, and the NCL Management Committee is determined to try and do whatever it can to ensure that when we do get a season underway, that we minimise the outgoings for the clubs at the same time as trying to maximise the incoming revenues wherever we can.

“The safety and well being of the players plus the sustainability of our member clubs are the main priorities now, and we are working towards undertaking options that will hopefully deliver on those fronts.

The NCL met remotely on April 14 before waiting for further information from the Rugby Football League, which was delivered on April 20.

Hunt added: “The reason for these delays were in the hope that there may be an indication that lockdown on sporting events may be lifted, and therefore a possible restart of the NCL would be a potential option on or around June 6.

“I am reliably informed that will not be the case.

“It is with some sadness that the NCL Management has unanimously decided to suspend the 2020 season for one that will be replaced by a series of Regionalised Group fixtures.

“There will be no promotion or relegation, but by the creation of a number of local derby games, it is hoped that the clubs will be able to maximise revenue from good-sized attendances at the same time saving on the amount of travel that will be required.

“There has been much speculation on how the Regional Groupings will be determined and how many fixtures they will provide.

“That will very much depend on a fixture start date being provided by the RFL in agreement with HM Govt.

“Suffice to say we have a number of options that give a varying number of fixtures and which are flexible in the way they can be organised to give more or less games as the pandemic events unfold.

“What we will do is provide a meaningful competition that will give the players, coaches and fans something to aspire to, along with an ultimate Championship Final.

However, as I say, the details will be revealed once we have a commencement date to work towards.

“We will of course enable the players two to three weeks to get back into a fitness regime with their clubs ahead of commencing fixtures.”

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