All the issues surrounding the Ibstock appeal (which I'll decline to comment on) raises the issue of whether the current system is failing and whether it is long due for an overhaul. Putting the Nationals aside for a minute (I'll come back to it in a bit) there are a number of issues with the present system : Appeals why appeal? If your band has proved that it is good enough or it has been proved (through contesting) then it goes up or comes down. Unless there has been a genuine mistake in calculation somewhere along the line then there should be no cause to appeal. I can understand why the system was introduced in order to compensate for any error which may have been cause, however the system is open to abuse and sadly this can and does happen with bands appealing to go up despite their results speaking to the contrary (note: I have no axe to grind against ANY band or regional committee on this, I simply putting across my own personal observation). Average Points The whole business of a promoted or relagated bands recieving average points means that they effectivley jump over bands which may have been knocking on the door of promotion. For example in a section with say 16 bands, the bands near the top are likely to be in the region of having around 12- 20 points. A band promoted or relegated automatically comes in with 16 points (based on a two year average) automatically putting them in a good position for promotion and effectively "bumping down" the current bands, the question has to be asked as to whether this accuratley reflects a bands playing ability, for example a third section band moving up would have the same points as a 1st section band moving down, granted there is still a contest to go before the "pecking" order is finalised, however a "subjective result" in this one contest throws a spanner in the works, the 1st section band could in theory find itself demoted straight down to third section, this does bring me on to my last point : One Contest and thats you're lot mate... Why do we still use the Nationals as a yard stick by which to beat ourselves to death with?, I do not for a minute believe that the Nationals is an accurate assesment of a bands ability, it's far too subjective and yet here we have a contest which can decide the fate of a band, it is a sad fact that players come and go depending upon the bands ranking, local contests are also based (somewhat loosely) on these rankings, in some cases the ranking of the band can be the difference between a healthy thriving enviroment or total disaster, yet we are still locked into the one contest mentality. It also castrates the local contests, how many "big name" bands go to local association contests, not many, it doesn't affect ranking therefore why bother?. A solution perhaps? One way to improve things might be to get the local associations involved and to have a bands position within a section based upon a number of local association contests as well as the nationals. Each association can nomite maybe 2 or more contests which count towards a bands grading, this in addition to the nationals would determine the bands section and position within that section. At the end of the year the points are tallied up and the bands at the top go up and the bands at the bottom go down. For the Championship section (where effectively there is no up) it would determine their placing at the end of the year (with possibly a regional champions prize?) and the next year everyone starts from zero again. An additional benefit would be that more bands would attend the local association contests since it would count for something and bands would be encouraged to hold on to players since all contest would be important. The Nationals would effectivley become the FA cup of the banding world, where the main aim is to get through to the finals rather than go up or stay up. Additionaly one contest would no longer decide a bands ranking it would be spread over a number of contests (something many people have been crying out for). Of course there are holes in this system, for instance the regionals have bands from different associations competing together so the local associations would need to keep track of which of their member bands came where. Also local association bands may well compete in different regionals though this may have the benefit of getting bands to keep track of more than just one regional heat. Also there is the problem of bands who (for their own varying reasons) only do the Nationals, How would we determine their grading? If they only did one contest then chances are they would end up bottom of the pile after a year and withdraw from contesting completely. It's a real puzzle, every system has its share of problems and given the diversity of bands and players (contesting, non contesting, halfway housers) its a difficult one to solve, if we are content with the current system then perhaps we should take a breath before complaining about it, if not then perhaps we should start letting our local and regional powers-that-be know about it and apply some pressure for change, or is this just change for changes sake. Thoughts anyone?