Manchester and Trafford Handball Clubs are to trial a merger in a move that will see the pair enter joint teams into England Handball Association’s league structure this season.
The “exciting collaboration” will see the two clubs join forces in a move that allows as many handballers as possible from across Manchester and the North West to continue playing the sport.
The news follows numerous discussions between the clubs and the England Handball Association, with an agreement reached to trial the arrangement for the 2023/24 season. If the trial is a success, the teams will then merge fully for the 2024/25 season.
Stanislaw Belinski, Chairman at Trafford HC, said: “We are pleased to welcome Manchester HC to join forces with Trafford HC in an exciting collaboration.
“Together, as a united force, we will be entering joint teams to ensure that all players can continue to enjoy the sport they love.
“This decision reflects our shared belief that fostering a strong handball community is vital, not only for our respective clubs but also for the growth and development of handball in the Northern region.”
Mike Gregson, Chairman at Manchester HC, said the merger follows a challenging season for the club on and off the court, and that the decision to not enter Manchester HC independently into the league was a difficult one.
But he added: “To make sure that all our players are able continue to play handball we have decided to join with Trafford HC and enter joint teams.
“We feel that this is the best decision for all of our members and for handball in the North West.
Vicki Putson, Head of Operations at England Handball, said that although it would be sad to be losing Manchester HC as a stand-alone club if the merger becomes permanent, it’s pleasing to see that no players will lose out on the opportunity to play under the Manchester banner.
For the coming season, the newly-formed team will be known as Manchester-Trafford, and will compete in the Men’s Premier Handball League North and Regional Handball League North.
Vicki Putson said: “We recognise that the decision to merge with Trafford has not been an easy one, but with the challenges Manchester have had over the last year, ensuring that players are still able to compete in the league has been their top priority.
“It promises to be another exciting year for handball in England and we wish Manchester-Trafford the best of luck for the coming season.”