BUDLEIGH Salterton have had cold water poured on their request to league bosses suspend relegation from the Premier Division this season, or allow extra time in September to play cancelled games, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

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Budleigh should have been playing defending champions North Devon at Ottermouth on matchday eleven (July 14), but that game is off as there is nowhere to play it.

The Ottermouth ground at Budleigh was under 15 feet of water earlier this week – the tidemark is just below the gutter of the pavilion roof – and will be out of action for a month and probably longer.

The University of Exeter have come to the rescue by offering its complex at Topsham for five weeks – starting next Saturday.

That means Budleigh’s 1st XI will have missed five out of 11 games on the fixture list and make it even harder for them to get out of the bottom two in the Premier Division.

Teams only get six points for a cancellation from the 20 points available for winning a match. The more rain-offs they collect, the further behind Budleigh will fall.

There is a precedent for suspending promotion and relegation throughout the league from the foot-and-mouth crisis in 2001.

However, league chiefs decided the circumstances were entirely different when they met to discuss Budleigh’s request.

“It would not be fair to all the other clubs at this stage of the season to say there is no promotion or relegation,” said league administrator Geoff Coish.

“Foot and mouth was entirely different. We knew about that problem several months beforehand and called an extraordinary meeting of clubs, at which it was voted on to suspend promotion and relegation.”

Neil Rice, the Budleigh chairman, said he wasn’t surprised by the league executive’s response, but thinks it is the wrong one.

“Promotion and relegation should be decided over an entire season,” said Rice.

“At best we will play two-thirds of our games and you can’t base a decision on that.”

See the Devon Cricket league website at www.devoncricket.co.uk for reaction to the news that the league will not be extended or relegation and promotion suspended.

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