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Volleyball Ireland Statement: National League & Association Cup

National League & Association Cup Null & Void.

As a result of the publication of the Government’s Reopening Business & Society Road Map and the phased approach included within, it is not likely that we will be able to conclude the 2019/20 National League & Association Cup Competitions.
As a result, and following consultation with member clubs (zoom meeting held on 25th March), the National League and Association Cup are declared null and void.
A number of options were discussed with the Competitions & Development Commission.  In the main these included;

          1. Completing the season over the summer months:
Feedback from clubs suggested that only 60% of teams would have enough players to compete over the Summer, making the arrangement of fixtures impossible.  Other problems included the impact on the Beach Volleyball National Tour calendar, as well as the unlikely availability of indoor facilities with most school and college facilities closed until September.

         2. Delaying the start of the 2020/21 season and completing the current season (2019/20) later in the year:
This also disadvantages teams whose players would not be available later in the year and in addition the likely transfer of players and coaches during this time would also have an impact.  This option was deemed unworkable.

        3. Declaring the National League and Association Cup Null and Void
This decision is in line with a series of phased return scenarios sent to clubs in late March, while not satisfactory it is the most practical solution and provides certainty for all concerned.
On balance, declaring the season null and void was the least worst solution.  This decision led to a number of possible solutions for how to close off the 2019/20 season and determine, for instance, how league places would be allocated in the upcoming 2020/21 season. 

These solutions include;

        a. Using Current Standings:
With teams having played an unequal amount of matches this option would probably not produce a fair representation of each Division.

        b. Points Per Game:
This solution would see each team’s points divided by the number of games played, unlike option 1 this would allow comparison of teams with unequal matches played. However, it was felt that with the current league positions being so close, the number of matches in each Division being relatively small, with teams having played an unequal amount of fixtures and some with more home games than away games left to play, a PPG system would not adequately produce a fair representation of each Division.

           c. Negotiation
In some Divisions, there are team positions that are clear at the top and bottom of the league which would in some cases allow a fair assessment of promotion/relegation.  This would only work in some cases and would leave others unclear or open to challenge.

          d. Revert to team positions at the end of the 2018/19 season
While it is unfortunate that the National League standings cannot be decided on sporting merit, these are unprecedented times “Null and Void” is the fairest option for all teams.  2020/21 league positions will be allocated according to placings at the beginning of the 2019/20 season.

In any case allocation of teams into each Division will be discussed as always, once the National League entry process is opened for the 2020/21 season, teams can always make requests for reallocation based on particular circumstances.  

Cup Competitions
The Association Cup and Shield Competitions are at various stage of completion, and for the reasons listed above it is unlikely to be able completed in a reasonable time frame. And as such, The Association Cup and Shield Competitions will be cancelled.
The Way Forward
The Competitions & Development Commission, in consultation with the Board and staff of Volleyball Ireland is working with Sport Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport to produce a set of Return to Sport Protocols that will allow Volleyball to be played as soon as it is safe to do so.

At present, it is not expected that any organised format of Volleyball, including Beach Volleyball, will be able to take place before the start of Phase 3, at the very earliest of the Government’s Road Map, (June 29th).
Volleyball Ireland would like to thank all clubs and their members for their input and wish all of our members the best of health now and into the future.