Three clubs will be relegated from Division One in the Fermanagh and Western League in the forthcoming season, as the league looks to reduce the top flight to 12 teams over the next two seasons.

The 14 team league, which has been in place since the decision not to relegate any teams in the Covid affected season, will be reduced to 13 teams at the end of the upcoming campaign, with the three down and two up format staying in place for the following season as well as the division returns to 12 teams for the 2024/25 campaign.

League Chairman Neil Jardine revealed that they had considered a more dramatic plan to relegate four clubs this season, but the members finally opted for a more gradual transition at the recent Fermanagh and Western AGM.

“The motion to have four teams relegated this season was narrowly defeated so there will be uneven number of teams in Division One for season 23/24,” he revealed.

“There will only be 13 teams in it and then it will drop down another club so by season 24/25 it will be back down to 12 teams in Division One. The bottom three go down for this season and next season. In Division Two it is still two teams up and down. At the moment Division Two and Three have nine teams. The hope would be that next year we would have three going down from Division Two and we would then have 12/10/10 in the three divisions, which is where we were pre-Covid.”

The league also confirmed the acceptance of two new clubs into Division Three. Newtownstewart United and Omagh Albion with join the returning Ardstraw, who will also join in the bottom tier following their switch back from the Intermediate league. Castlederg have also boosted the numbers in the reserve league with the addition of a second team.

The league have also approved an overhaul of the substitute rule, with teams across all competitions permitted to use all five of their named subs in the upcoming campaign following a proposal from Irvinestown Wanderers.

“Previously you could name five and use three subs which means there was two guys sitting there who weren’t going to get a game,” explained Jardine.

“We are a junior game and we have a recreational aspect to it and it was unfair. Also, it helps with the development of players. A lot of clubs might not use it, They might be tight on numbers and only bring three subs. The only restriction is that you are only allowed three movements, so you have three substitute opportunities outside of half time.”

There were no changes to the office bearers in the committee, with the AGM also confirming the start of the Division One season as Saturday August 13. The Kennedy Cup final between Enniskillen Rangers, the winners of the Mulhern Cup, and Tummery Athletic, the winners of the Mercer League, will take place on Tuesday August 9.