New name and format for top divisions
8th May 2018
The top divisions of the National Volleyball League have a new name. For the start of the 2018/19 season, the highest division in the men’s and women’s game will be rebranded as the Volleyball England Super League.
The membership was asked for their suggestions of potential names and a shortlist was created. The person who made the winning suggestion of Super League will now receive a bundle of prizes.
Out of the shortlist of four possible names, the volleyball community chose overwhelmingly for Super League, as the new title gained almost half of the votes in the entire poll.
The rebranding follows the restructuring of the top divisions which will see them have an interesting new competition format too.
It was announced in March that the top men’s and women’s leagues would be expanded to ten teams and the playoffs would no longer take place. Teams from the divisions below will be promoted to give each league ten teams – as recommended by the membership. The process and rationale behind this decision was shared with the membership as the board and competitions working group tried to find the best way forward for the whole sport.
Instead of a typical league structure though, the men’s and women’s Super Leagues will be played in a split-league system. All teams will play each other once, before the division splits into two halves.
The top half will play each other twice for positions one to five, while the bottom half will play each other twice to compete for sixth to tenth position in the league. The team which finishes bottom will be relegated while the team in ninth will face a playoff against the team which finishes second in NVL division one. Points won in the first half of the season will carry over into each team’s total points tally. However, teams from the bottom half will not be able to overtake teams from the top half.
The decision was made following a consultation with the current Super 8s and division 1 teams.
“The clubs voted on their preferred format for the league and the split-league system gained the majority of the votes,” explains competitions and events director, Freda Bussey. “We took the poll into account and listened to all the feedback. When considering how this would impact those teams who are most likely to make up the Super Leagues next season, this was the best decision for our teams and quality of the competition. It’s great that the inspiration for this innovation has come from the membership.
“The split system should see lots of really competitive matches. It will be exciting as teams aiming for the title will have more matches against their closest rivals, while the teams in the bottom five will be fighting for survival against teams they are better matched against.”
The split-system has been a hit in other sports. With more competitive matches and more teams getting the chance to play the top sides, it should help improve the overall standard of volleyball in this country too.
That is certainly the view of Volleyball England’s Coaching Lead and England men’s head coach Simon Loftus, who was the person who originally suggested this type of format:
“With this format it means every game counts. There is no danger of the league being decided in February or of teams securing a playoff place and then giving up until the playoffs come around. For the top sides, dropped sets or a match could really cost you – there is competition all the time.
“As national team coach I want players who are at their peak when they come to play international matches after the end of the domestic season. With many high-pressure games towards the end of the season, the players will be in top condition for international matches.
“It will also help improve the standard of the lower ranked teams who are playing in the Super League. For example, a team could lose most of their initial matches and then have matches against teams around them to pull themselves out of trouble.
“We want to see more high-profile games and competitions in this country. A league with competitive matches throughout the whole season will help build opportunities and the profile of the league and players, which is particularly good for teams such as IBB Polonia London and Tendring who are attracting sponsors to their clubs and the sport.”
The other NVL leagues will continue to operate on the straight league system. A host of new teams have already applied to join the NVL and the final line-up of teams in each division will be announced shortly for the new season which will begin in September.