A new structure of domestic competitions, proposed after Phase II of the Competition Review, has been approved by the Table Tennis England Board.

The new structure is designed to enable all competition formats to develop and thrive and will be delivered against a structured calendar, avoiding competition clashes and providing an appropriate mix of club-based and large-scale national events.

The frequency and quantity of opportunities for each age-group and standard will be optimised, delivering more localised, affordable and accessible competition for participants and hosts.

The proposals flowed out of Phase I of the Review, in which the Vision and Principles were established, followed by a recent further round of consultation by the Steering Group, including MAG, National Council, and open member-feedback sessions.

The key developments at this stage are:

  • Creation of a new four-date National Series for top U13, U15 & U19 boys and girls – small-group, one-day round-robin events with promotion and relegation between tiers
  • Evolution and increased alignment of the National Leagues (NCL/NJL and British League)
  • 1*, 2* & 4* events to sit within a new Tiered Open Tournament structure – with local events concurrent at local level, zonal events concurrent at zonal level, and national events standalone in the calendar; all events will take place on designated dates within the calendar to avoid event clashes
  • The new Table Tennis England area staffing structure will work with clubs, leagues and members at a local level to grow capacity and enable more participation, including growth of weekend youth leagues and club engagement in national leagues, advocating and supporting local/ zonal open tiered tournaments, and actively creating school/club links
  • Competition and event naming will evolve to be more transparent and easier to understand, including National Leagues, National Series, and Open Tiered Tournaments – and ‘Senior’ events will become ‘Unrestricted’ when open to all

A number of complementary developments will support and enable these new approaches, including new one-day playing memberships, simplified flat-rate levies for hosted events, increased flexibility in playing formats, and reduced officiating and venue requirements at lower levels.

For a detailed overview of the key changes please click here to see the presentation, and read the FAQs below.

Adrian Christy, Chief Executive, said: “I would like to recognise the significant input from so many members, competition organisers and stakeholder groups who have contributed to the review to date.

“Reviewing something as emotive as competition was a bold move – not every proposal will receive unanimous support. However, throughout the process, the team, Board and Steering Group have always been conscious that our competition structure is for our members. Therefore, the input into the design which ensures it is fit for the future must come from the members – and we heard you loud and clear.

“As we move now to the next stage, we should all be very excited that the proposals will best enable competition to play such a crucial role in encouraging more people to play table tennis, players to stay in the sport for longer and players to develop through the pathway.”

The Competition Review now moves on to Phase III, the final development phase, which will comprise detailed event development by the Steering Group, and any further input from members and the new Competition Committee, before it is presented to the Board for final approval in March 2023.

The detail of previous phases, including support documentation and membership consultation outcomes, can be seen by clicking here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does this mean for National Championships? 

Broadly unchanged, with addition of Para categories at Cadet and Junior age-groups.

What does this mean for National Cups?

The Cadet and Junior National Cups will be enhanced, expanded and become more frequent as the new 4-date ‘National Series’ for the top U13, U15 & U19 boys and girls.

What does this mean for British League?

No existing opportunities will be lost. The national Junior club competition (JBL) will be expanded to three or four weekends for boys and girls’ teams, whilst avoiding entry cost increases to participants. The national ‘Senior’ club competition (SBL) will include a KO cup for the top division clubs – a new pinnacle event for the very best teams as a season finale and showcase.

What does this mean for County Championships? 

No immediate change is proposed to the formats of these competitions (U15, U19, Unrestricted, Veterans and O60s). The County Champs Committee will be engaged to consider opportunities for evolution and to deliver in a defined footprint (eg specific dates).

What does this mean for National Cadet & Junior Leagues? 

No immediate change is proposed to the formats of these competitions. NCL/ NJL and British League will move under a single club league umbrella and become more directly aligned in terms of branding, TTE support and processes – in order to increase efficiency, and to provide an improved experience to hosts and entrants. Local delivery will be supported by the new area staffing structure.

What does this mean for ELCC (English Leagues Cup Competition)? 

No immediate change is proposed to the formats of these competitions. The ELCC Committee will be engaged to consider opportunities for evolution.

What does this mean for Inter-regional Competition? 

No direct equivalent is proposed for Inter-regional competition. Alternative playing opportunities for players are offered within the programme, including a targeted one-day annual U11 & U13 boys and girls’ team competition – to be supported locally by the area staffing structure, as a springboard to National Leagues.

What does this mean for Grands Prix? 

Competition opportunities in these formats/categories will be provided through the tiered open tournament approach.

What does this mean for 1*, 2* and 4* events? 

Tiered open tournaments will be hosted concurrently at local and zonal level, supported locally by the area staffing structure. These will be sanctioned by Table Tennis England on application from hosts against specific calendar dates in order to avoid clashes and provide greater assurance of geographical spread – the allocation process will allow for incentivisation of preferred formats and categories, eg inclusion of U11/U13 at Cadet Opens, U23 at Unrestricted Opens, or Women and Girls categories.

There will be fewer but enhanced national open tournaments, which will receive resource from Table Tennis England at U15 & U19 as pinnacle events. National Opens will comprise the qualifying route to Cadet, Junior and Unrestricted (Senior) age-group National Championships. This will result in more localised, affordable and accessible competition for participants and hosts.

What does this mean for Ranking/ Ratings? 

Rankings and ratings are not directly impacted by any proposed changes; future options for the ranking framework are being considered as a separate project.