All divisions in the British Water Polo League will comprise eight teams at the start of the 2011 season.

The biggest impact of this change will be felt in men’s Division One, where only the leading seven this year retain a place at the highest level.

Welsh Wanderers and Sutton & Cheam, who finished ninth and tenth, have been relegated. Invicta, who were eighth, now face a play-off against the Division Two champions, City of Sheffield, to determine which club competes at the top table in 2011.

All men's divisions are affected to some extent. Already, completion of the men’s Division Four programme has seen Grantham, Otter 1869 and the RAF drop into a new feeder (or fifth) division next year.

The changes do not impact on women’s divisions as these already comprise eight teams. However, all sides will find themselves in a more competitive environment in 2011 when the programme will work like this:

In all divisions, clubs play each other once in the first half of the season – or seven matches per team.

The top five in men’s and women’s Division One split off in phase two to play each other twice – “super leagues” of eight more matches per club.

The bottom three in each Division One form new divisions with the leading five from Division Two, playing each other once – seven games each. The same system – bottom three in one division playing the top five in the next division down – then cascades down through the league.

The changes required a play-off process for this season in men’s divisions, which the former NWPL agreed would be as follows:

Champions of Division Two (Sheffield) v Invicta. To be played at Manchester Aquatics Centre, 22 January, 2011 (7.30pm).

Champions of Division Three (City of Birmingham) v City of Leeds (ranked 6th in Division Two). At 8.45pm.

Worthing (Division Four champions) defeated Swindon (6th in Division Three) in the other play-off and move up to Division Three in 2011.