The Drennan Superleague is to finish this summer signalling the demise of one of the big three titles in team matchfishing and begs the question - where now for team fishing?
Along with the Angling Times Team Champs and Division 1 National, the Superleague was one of THE ones to win, but its death now calls into question big-time team fishing. It may survive as it is, but its future looks short-term a radical overhaul may be the only option.
National attendances have been on the slide for years and this year's Team Champs saw only a couple of dozen leagues running. On the flip side, club fishing has seen a real surge since the start of the decade so all is not doom and gloom and an injection of this club fishing esprit could be the shot in the arm the team scene needs.
"Big sponsored matches come and go you¹ve only got to look at the likes of the Embassy Pairs and Captain Morgan Cup," said Drennan¹s Gary Barclay, himself a team angler of over 30 years.
"Unless you create new competitions that are acceptable to the wider audience and structured correctly, I can't see how team fishing can go forward. There¹s so much choice and only a finite number of team anglers around."
"Anglers find the level they are comfortable at and stick to it," added Daiwa Dorking skipper Steve Sanders.
"You've only got to look at competitions like the Van Den Eynde Supercup, which is now a major event in the year for club anglers outside of what you'd call the team elite. People's aspirations are different, but you¹ll always have a hardcore of anglers that want to mix it at the top end and they need an event to fish in the summer. With the Superleague news, I¹d think it¹ll now have to be a new competition."
However, all is not lost! Angling Times understands that Drennan is currently in negotiations to introduce brand new, exciting team fishing event aimed at the average open angler more news as it breaks in Angling Times over the next few weeks.
One team is bucking the trend, though...
But are team numbers really on the slide? The rise of West Midlands outfit Maver Midlands shows that with a lot of enthusiasm and the necessary commitment, the joys of team fishing are still there to be enjoyed.
Crafted from top anglers in the area, including former Starlets, Tipton and Mosella Garbolino men, Maver Midlands showed their power with a dominant win in last week¹s AT Team Champs Semi Final at Hampton Springs and according to skipper Wayne Mellings, his lads just can¹t get enough.
"We took the decision to form and fish smaller leagues of four or six a side as this is where consistent coverage and rewards are," he said. "We've got 18 lads in the squad and the Team Champs is the one that we all work as a team towards. What we do have is the right blend of youth and experience and those lads that haven¹t fished in the big time before provide the buzz about the place that also spurs on us old hands!"
"We've also got a great sponsorship package from Maver and while we may not be the greatest team in the country, we're building all the time. Publicity is key as it helps convince anglers who might be frustrated in their current team to think about joining us but more importantly to give the anglers their own space."
"By this I mean that once the leagues in winter are out of the way, there¹s the summer for each man to do his own thing. This is a bit of a break for them and takes away the pressure of team fishing which I think can do a lot of damage when done 24/7."