This is an archived article transferred from an older version of the website. Some images or links within the article might no longer display or function correctly.

The 2011 European Slowpitch Cup, scheduled to be played from August 3-6 in the town of Mlade Buky in the Czech Republic, is now down to the minimum number of four teams after the late withdrawal this month of the Austrian entry, WBV Homerunners.

Coming on the heels of an earlier withdrawal by the Slovenian entry, the tournament will now be contested by two British teams -- defending champion Chromies and 2010 Premier Nationals winners Pioneers -- plus Limerick from Ireland and the host Czech team, Sparks Bak.

Withdrawals at this stage incur hefty ESF fines, and any further withdrawals would lead to the cancellation of the tournament, with little hope of financial redress for teams that have booked flights and hotels.

Future solutions

The BSF Executive has received this news with alarm. In the short term, the BSF may try to encourage another Czech team to enter at short notice (there are precedents for host countries having two teams in European Cup competitions).

In the longer term, the BSF will consider whether to suggest to the ESF that this competition should be held every other year, in the years between European Slowpitch Championships, rather than every year as is the case for Europe's Fastpitch Cups.

This year has seen a trend of teams withdrawing from European slowpitch competitions. The European Slowpitch Cup initially had seven entries but is now down to four; the European Slowpitch Championships being played in Bulgaria initially had as many as 10 entries, but was down to six countries when the tournament started.

The pips squeak

Money is undoubtedly an issue for teams and players in the current economic climate, and of course no European federation (except Britain and Ireland to a limited extent) puts funding towards supporting teams in international slowpitch competition.

The BSF will want to explore future solutions with the ESF, and at a "Slowpitch Summit Meeting" on the promotion and development of slowpitch around the world to be held at the ISF Congress in Oklahoma City in October.