The first ever Polo Premier League® will be launched in the UK in time for the 2013 polo season. Initially involving eight of the leading clubs, the League will be played over four months between May and August, with a final play-off between the top two clubs to decide the overall winner.
The groundbreaking League has been developed in partnership with the governing body for the sport in the UK, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) and the UK’s leading High Goal players; both will be equity stakeholders in the League and will be closely involved in its day-to-day management.
The seven clubs confirmed to date are; Guards, Beaufort, Cowdray Park, Royal County of Berkshire, Ham, Cirencester and Kirtlington. The eighth club will be announced shortly.
The League will be played between teams of 12-14 goal handicap, with the UK’s highest handicapped players each being allocated to a club. The three remaining places on each team will include a ‘Development Player’ who is selected from the HPA Grass Roots Development Programme, a Hall of Fame player and a Special Player. Full club squads will be announced in due course.
The League will initially be financed by seed capital from the founders, and is currently in discussions to seek one overall League title sponsor, and a number of Official Partners and Suppliers.
David Woodd, Chief Executive of the HPA said, “The Polo Premier League® is a great step forward for the sport in the UK and by including a HPA Development Player in each team, we will be giving the next generation of English players the opportunity to take part in some highly competitive games throughout the season.”
He continued, “The HPA and its member clubs are fully supportive of the Polo Premier League® and will work closely with the organisers over the coming months to ensure its smooth introduction into the 2013 calendar.”
Henry Brett, speaking for the professional players, said, “Like any other sport, polo needs to continually grow and develop, and an inter-club league is an excellent way of taking the game to new audiences and developing the next generation of players. The senior England squad are fully behind the launch of the Polo Premier League® and will play an instrumental role in its launch and ongoing management.”
Each club will nominate a squad of eight players, supported by a team manager and coach. These teams will be split into two Leagues of four, creating 24 League games. Games will be four chukkas in the preliminary rounds. Each club will play each other twice in their League, once at home and once away; where possible the main ground for each club will be used. The League will follow HPA rules, with some agreed changes, not dissimilar to other sports but new to field polo, to enhance the spectator value of the game. The League will not interrupt any existing polo programme currently played in the UK.