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With the new season fast approaching and teams beginning to return to training for pre-season, BAFA have now announced the conference alignments for the 2022 BAFA National Leagues campaign. This year sees the return of the traditional format and a return to competitive football, and some of the potential matchups are mouth-watering to say the least. While there have been accusations of only being out to “Bash BAFA” I am pleased to say that the alignments look fantastic, and I think it’s a job well done.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the divisions and how they will stack up this year.

Premier Division

Premiership North

  • Edinburgh Wolves
  • Manchester Titans
  • Merseyside Nighthawks
  • Sandwell Steelers
  • Sheffield Giants
  • Tamworth Phoenix

These are the teams we were expecting to see in the division in 2020 before the Pandemic, it’s not a huge surprise to see this division maintained for this year as it was intended. The main thing that jumps out is after the severe struggles of 2021 for the Sandwell Steelers, I had given thought to the prospect that they may apply for a voluntary relegation in an attempt to regroup. However, it appears they have decided to fight for what they earned and take the plunge into the Premier Division. This Division is loaded with talent and should have plenty of games to watch out for, not least the Titans against the Phoenix.

Premiership South

  • Bristol Aztecs
  • Kent Exiles
  • London Blitz
  • London Olympians
  • London Warriors
  • Solent Thrashers

Much like the Premiership North, this division is how it was expected to be in 2020. I am so excited to see what the South gives us in 2022 given some of the games we have seen in 2021 and the close matchups. If someone could find a way to stream all these games this season, I would watch every single one. The improvements the Exiles made last year as well as the performance of the Thrashers and Olympians and the Aztecs returning to the fold. It could be electric.

Division 1

NFC1 North

  • East Kilbride Pirates
  • Glasgow Tigers
  • Inverclyde Goliaths
  • Lancashire Wolverines
  • Northumberland Vikings
  • Yorkshire Rams

The main thing that stands out here is the Aberdeen Roughnecks no longer being in Division 1. After they withdrew from the league in 2021, they have obviously made the decision to take a step down in an attempt to regroup. The absence of Aberdeen has resulted in English teams beyond Northumberland being added back into this division. They were scheduled to be in other conferences in 2020 due to complaints about the travel to the North-East of Scotland. With that no longer being an issue, the Yorkshire Rams and Lancashire Wolverines have been added back into the fold.

NFC1 South

  • Birmingham Bulls
  • Chester Romans
  • Halton Spartans
  • Leicester Falcons
  • Nottingham Caesars
  • Shropshire Revolution

Unlike Aberdeen, despite withdrawing from the league, Halton have decided to gut it out in Division 1 in 2022. They are in amongst a really tough division which will include a team in the Leicester Falcons who may feel they could have been moved back into the Premier Division. However, as they were relegated in 2019, they have been maintained in Division 1 as they were going to be for 2020 and will have to go the long way back to the Premier Division once more. Joining them will be the Birmingham Bulls who were slated to play in Division 2 in 2020 but given the open slot and their continued strong performances, I see this as the right move to promote them into the 2nd tier for the 2022 season.

SFC1 WEST

  • Bournemouth Bobcats
  • Hertfordshire Cheetahs
  • Oxford Saints
  • Portsmouth Dreadnaughts
  • Rushmoor Knights
  • South Wales Warriors

Another great looking division for this season with a plethora of good teams throughout. Portsmouth were another team to withdraw from the season in 2021 but have remained in Division 1 for this year. The South Wales Warriors who were SFC2 Champions in 2019, will finally realise their promotion as they return to the 1st Division. The Bobcats will also get their promotion although with the division they played in 2021, they pretty much experienced it already last year.

SFC1 EAST

  • Cambridgeshire Cats
  • Essex Spartans
  • London Blitz B
  • London Hornets
  • Sussex Thunder
  • Wembley Stallions

With the Ouse Valley Eagles dropping down to Division 2 after the 2019 season, there was a hole needing filling that led to the Essex Spartans being promoted for their undefeated regular season and their stellar defensive record. Then Bury Saints withdrew leaving another space and given how good they looked against Division 1 opponents in 2021, it was only sensible to promote the London Blitz B as well. They join a strong conference with some high-quality games a guarantee.

Overall, the alignments for the Premiership and Division 1 look good with some cracking games set to take place this coming season. I dare say it is a pat on the back job all around for the alignments set out for 2022.

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