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Dec '09 23

British Briefing: NBL looks set to grow to 12 teams

by Joe Gray

The official announcement came today from the British Baseball Federation to confirm what many people had been discussing since the league meeting on 29 November: three new teams are set to join the southern bracket of the National Baseball League (NBL) in 2010 and the four-team northern bracket is to also be reinstated.

So this could see the top tier increase from a cluster of five teams around London in 2009 to a dozen sides spread geographically from the south coast to the north of the country.

The additions include two newcomers to the top tier: the SOUTHAMPTON MUSTANGS (southern bracket) and the HARROGATE TIGERS (northern bracket). In addition, two teams are rejoining the southern bracket after a gap of a decade: the ESSEX ARROWS last competed at the national level in 2000 while an RAF Feltwell-based team, the MILDENHALL BULLDOGS, played in the top level back in 2001 (playing under their previous name of the CAMBRIDGE MONARCHS).

Finally, the LIVERPOOL TROJANS, MENWITH HILL PATRIOTS, and MANCHESTER A’s will return to the top tier after a one-season absence, all to the northern bracket.

One doubt remains: will the CROYDON PIRATES, coming off their winless 2009 season, retain their place in the top tier? Dave Ward, General Manager, is determined to give the team the best possible chance of staying in the NBL, and the British Baseball Federation are providing strong support for CROYDON’s rebuilding efforts.

Once this remaining question has been answered, then the British Baseball Federation will be able to announce more detailed plans on the league’s structure and post-season qualification format.

Click here for the full story on the British Baseball Federation website.

Joe Gray is league statistician for the National Baseball League and is the founder of Project Cobb (the Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball).

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