With one additional grass pitch set to be available at Farnham Park in 2024 as opposed to 2023, the BSF has announced that its third-tier National Softball League competition, NSL3, will expand by four new teams for the coming season.
NSL1 and NSL2 will operate as normal, with 12 teams in each league and the top eight teams qualifying for NSL Nationals.
However, four new teams (out of more than a dozen teams that applied) will join NSL3 in 2024, and NSL3 will be divided into two eight-team divisions, based on final placings in 2023 but with two new teams added to each division.
Over the three NSL league weekends – 18-19 May, 22-23 June, and 27-28 July -- NSL3 teams will play all other teams in their own division home-and-away and will play once against teams in the other division.
The top four teams in each division will qualify for the NSL3 Nationals, while the team that wins each division will be promoted to NSL2 for 2025. The bottom two teams in each division will be relegated out of the NSL structure and replaced in 2025 by four new teams from the waiting list.
However, relegated teams can join the waiting list to get back into NSL3 in future.
NSL National Championships for all three leagues will be held on the weekend of 31 August-1 September.
The BSF has also announced that, for the first time, the teams that win the NSL Nationals at all three levels will receive a cash prize in the form of a refunded entry fee.
The four new teams that will join the NSL3 League for the 2024 season, with their home leagues shown in brackets, are:
Game of Throws (London)
Reading NSL (Windsor & Maidenhead)
If any team withdraws from NSL3 before the season, the first team in line for the place will be the independent team Breaking Bats.
To qualify to join NSL3, teams had to demonstrate that were now or would become affiliated to the BSF, that they would commit to playing all three NSL League weekends, and that they were not cannibalising current NSL teams to make up their roster.
From the BSF’s point of view, expanding the NSL is all about giving new players the opportunity to play within the NSL structure.
From the list of teams that met the criteria, teams were chosen based on the order in which they submitted applications.
A number of teams remain on the waiting list, including teams from Ireland and Belgium, and four of those teams will be able to join NSL3 for the 2025 season.