YORKSHIRE CCC chief executive Mark Arthur believes that the county will have the ‘most competitive league structure in the country’ when grassroots cricket across the Broad Acres is transformed in 2016.
From next season, the top league sides from the White Rose will compete in four ECB-affiliated Premier League divisions, which will all have partner leagues beneath them.
It will create a Yorkshire pyramid for club cricket, with promotion and relegation throughout, while showcasing the best of league cricket in Yorkshire.
The top team in each of the premier leagues will feature in the end-of-season Champion of Champion play-offs.
The semi-finals are expected to be held at Scarborough and Headingley with the final to take place in Abu Dhabi in October 2016.
Currently there are two premier leagues operating in England’s largest county, the North Yorkshire South Durham League and the Yorkshire League, and under the new structure, the Yorkshire League will be split into two to form Yorkshire League North and Yorkshire League South.
The North Yorkshire South Durham League will remain unchanged.
The fourth place will be filled by the Bradford League, which is in the process of securing ECB premier league status.
Yorkshire League North will feature seven members of the old Yorkshire League; York, Scarborough, Harrogate, Hull, Castleford, Driffield and the Yorkshire Academy, who will be joined by five teams from its partner league, the York Senior League.
Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield Collegiate, Sheffield United, Doncaster, Cleethorpes and Appleby Frodingham from the Yorkshire League will be joined by three teams from their partner league, the South Yorkshire League and two from the Central Yorkshire League.
The Bradford League will be at the pinnacle of the pyramid in West Yorkshire where the Central Yorkshire League has voted to be partner league.
Talks are ongoing with further leagues to join the pyramids for Yorkshire League South, Yorkshire League North and the Bradford League.
The Yorkshire Premier Cricket board will oversee the new structure, featuring two representatives from each of the premier leagues plus Yorkshire chief executive Arthur and Yorkshire Cricket Board executive director for partnerships Andrew Watson.
Arthur said: “It is right and proper that Yorkshire, as the largest and most successful cricketing county, has a pyramid structure that will enable the best club players to play against each other on a regular basis in the most competitive league structure in the country.
“From 2016 onwards, there will be no argument as to which club is the best in Yorkshire.”
Watson, who has been a key figure in all the negotiations, said: “After many months of planning and consultation, we are at a most exciting time for league cricket in Yorkshire, but still keeping its history and tradition.
“League cricket in Yorkshire is woven into the fabric of everyday life and this will enhance it for decades to come.”
Alan Birkenshaw, chairman of the Yorkshire Premier Cricket Board and Bradford League Development Officer added: “A considerable amount of time and effort has gone into the project and we believe it provides the opportunity for the aspirational clubs and players to play at the highest level of league cricket in Yorkshire.”