The NCU has reacted to the crisis created by the amalgamation of Cliftonville and Academy and the decision of two other clubs, Dungannon and Newforge not to enter teams for 2018.

Those decisions would have left Section 3 with only five teams and a view was taken that in those circumstances a programme of matches would not be viable.

The NCU Board's solution is that the remaining five Section 3 clubs will for the 2018 season be assimilated into an enlarged Section 2 comprising 15 teams each playing a 14 match league programme.

Concerns have already been expressed that there will be a wide disparity in the playing standards across such a league and a request to call an Extraordinary General Meeting to consider this may already be in the pipeline.

The NCU Board has indicated that it will consult the clubs for ideas on future restructuring but it seems that at this late stage it has taken the only practicable course for the coming season.

Clubs will no doubt seek assurances and clarity regarding the thorny issue of promotion and relegation but as they say 'A season is a long time.......' and there will be ample opportunity for all options to be put on the table when required.

For the 2018 season Senior League 2 will comprise: Ards, Ballymena, BISC, Belfast Super Kings, Cliftonville Academy, Cooke Collegians, Donaghadee, Drumaness, Dundrum, Dunmurry, Larne , Monaghan, Saintfield, Templepatrick, Victoria.