No deal yet on Northern League and Palace Shield merger

Lancaster and Morecambe currently ply their trade in the Northern Premier League.
Lancaster and Morecambe currently ply their trade in the Northern Premier League.

Northern Premier League clubs have agreed – in principle – in favour of a merger with the Palace Shield.

But it is not yet a done deal as the ball has now been thrown back in the court of the Palace Shield clubs – including Torrisholme and Garstang – to say whether they are in favour of a go-ahead at their AGM this Monday.

If a merger was agreed then promotion and relegation between the two leagues would apply in time for the start of the 2018 season.

One potential sticking point has emerged; that concerns Cumbrian clubs Barrow and Penrith, who compete in the Northern Premier League alongside Morecambe and Lancaster.

Some Palace Shield clubs are said to have reservations of making such a lengthy away trip.

Another potential problem regarding a merger is that the Lancashire League may make overtures again to invite NPL clubs to take part in their set-up, with Darwen making the move next season.

A previous attempt fell through after some NPL clubs, including Morecambe, showed initial interest about joining.

Leagues are in negotiations about their future structures in a bid to maintain their ‘premier’ status under ECB rules with promotion and relegation one of their requirements.