Hockey: Rowe criticises League's fixture decision

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THE PizzaExpress National League Committee has surprisingly rejected the introduction of a Premier League with home and away fixtures for the 1994-95 season, writes Bill Colwill. Although the decision requires ratification by the Hockey Association Council it seems unlikely that there will be a change of heart.

Keith Rowe, manager of the Division One leaders, Hounslow, spoke yesterday of his disappointment. 'It is most important for English hockey to have a proper league. Although it will happen eventually the decision is short-sighted,' he said. 'The decision, following consultation with the clubs, has been dictated by self-preservation and cannot be in the best interest of English hockey.'

Rowe pointed out that the German and Dutch leagues, without doubt the two strongest in the world, play home and away.

The League Committee had expressed concern that a top division of, say, 10 clubs playing home and away, would not be a true 'national' league because most of the clubs would be drawn from London and the South. The League, now in its fifth year, has created the opportunity for top quality competitive hockey and it is unfortunate that the opportunity for further improvement is not being taken.

The HA has accepted an invitation to take part in the twice postponed Indira Gandhi Memorial Tournament in Bombay on the new dates of 15-22 March. The acceptance is subject to security considerations, to the International Hockey Federation's endorsement of the event, and to full details and participants being confirmed by 12 February.