This week, NIFL announced a new structure for Northern Ireland’s top three divisions. We had a look at how the changes could affect Banbridge Town.
Over the next two seasons, Banbridge’s 16-team Championship Two will morph into the 12-team Premiership Intermediate Division.
Banbridge finished sixth in Championships Two last season but any sort of a slip in league positions could lead a catastrophic relegation.
This season, two or three teams will slip out of the top three national divisions. If there is an eligible applicant to be promoted to Championship Two as Dollingstown have been, three teams will go down. If there is no eligible applicant, only two will plummet through the trap door.
That will bring Championship Two down to 14 teams for the 215/16 season. Teams that survive that cut will have to have their wits about them for the 15/16 season as another four or even five teams will go down, depending on the eligible applicant as above. That will leave the division at its desired 12 teams with Championship One also shrinking from 14 to 12 teams.
However, if Town were to rise up the table this season, they would also have a heightened chance of promotion, with two teams going up to Championship One, which will become the 12-team Championship.
In the 15/16 season, Town’s sixth place could even be enough to secure promotion, with 11th place in Championship One playing off for a spot in the second tier with the highest ranked club in the top six places in Championship Two with a Championship License.
From the 16/17 season onwards, second and third will play-off for the chance to play 11th place in the new Championship for a place in the second tier.
For lots of Town news, see next week’s Banbridge Leader and keep an eye on our website.