Cricket’s Palace Shield has decided on a momentous change, one of the most significant in its history spanning more than a century - it has given the go-ahead to a tie-up with the Northern Premier League.
Promotion and relegation between the two leagues will now come into immediate effect.
Palace Shield clubs approved the milestone change at a special meeting held at the BAC/EE Cricket Club, with a vote of around 80 per cent in favour.
The top two sides in the Palace Shield premier will be eligible for promotion to the Northern League - the two lowest-place teams in the Northern League will be automatically relegated to the Palace Shield premier.
Promotion is described as optional for Palace Shield teams.
League secretary Dave Lever explained: “We have left it optional rather than automatic.
“It would be down to any club that is eligible to be promoted whether they wanted to go up - they may not want to travel longer distances in the Northern League or play in a competition that has different rules to the Palace Shield.”
Lever said the tie-up that has now been approved between the two leagues was a ‘big breakthrough’
He added: “People have talked about something this for years and years and it has never happened, but now it has.
Blackpool CC chairman Dave Cresswell, welcoming the development, said: “The Northern League cannot exist on its own.
“This will create an opportunity for the good Palace Shield teams to help put the Northern League clubs under pressure.”
Bobby Denning, managing director of the Lancashire Cricket Board, enthused: “It is fantastic news that the two leagues have got this over the line and for that they deserve great credit.
“It is very exciting for the clubs in both leagues.”