Norfolk Alliance clubs approve overseas ban

Proposals to restrict the use of overseas players in Norfolk club cricket were given the go-ahead last night.

Norfolk Alliance clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the changes at the league's AGM, meaning that only Premier Division clubs will be allowed to use overseas players from the forthcoming season.

The AGM also saw the election of a new chairman, as Swardeston stalwart Peter Thomas took over from John Tythcott, who becomes vice-chairman.

Thomas said he approved of the clubs' decision to act over the dominance of overseas stars in the Alliance in recent seasons: 'I am very pleased that we won't have overseas players dominating games to such an extent next season,' he said after the meeting. 'In recent years we have seen the development of youth cricket and now we are allowing young cricketers to actually play the game rather than sitting on the sidelines watching others.'

Thomas admitted that he was slightly surprised that only five of the Alliance's 44 member clubs voted against the proposals, adding: 'Some clubs have used overseas players in the proper way and they have run the club's youth section, but there are others who have just brought them in to play and strengthen the team.'

The ban applies to category three players – those who are not qualified to play for England or who are not ordinarily resident in the UK.

Thomas said he also hoped to clarify the situation regarding promotion and relegation following the confusion which erupted following Fakenham's relegation to the Alliance from the East Anglian Premier League at the end of last season.

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The Alliance initially indicated that teams finishing second last season would have promotion rescinded to accommodate Fakenham into the Premier Division. But after a re-think they opted for 11 teams in the top flight, with the season extended to allow for the extra games.

Thomas added: 'It was obviously a very difficult situation and I'm very keen to have something in place if it happens again.'

Tythcott was thanked for his work during his four-and-a-half year stint, which has seen the controversial expansion of the Alliance from four divisions to seven, as well as last night's groundbreaking move.

Thomas said: 'John is a very hard act to follow – he's a very vibrant man and he's done a remarkable job.

'I'll do things my own way like I do on the cricket field, but I can't see too many more big changes. It is a big compliment to be asked to do the job.

'I've played in the Alliance in five separate decades now and I felt I wanted to put something back.'

There was also a presentation to Terry Moore, who stood down from his role as vice-chairman and junior competitions organiser after 24 years' service on the committee.