Re: The Future of Lower-league Football ?
Summer football has been mooted on a number of occasions. When rugby league, a sport I cover professionally, changed to summer in 1996, I thought it was a brave decision and was sceptical about its success. Despite sitting in snow on more than one occasion at the start of the season, and seen the odd match postponed because of frost, on the whole, I think the sport has survived thanks to the change.
However, football cannot change at lower levels and remain as it is higher up the pyramid. Either we go the whole hog or we don’t because it will not work from an administrative standpoint. For a start the FA Cup begins in August, National League North and South join in late September, National Premier in October and Leagues One and Two in November, before the greedy scumbags (sorry, Championship, Premier League) enter in January. This would made the FA Cup a late-season tournament for some teams, early-season for others and mid-season for the remainder (which would make finding match officials for the early games even harder). Also it would be impossible to run the FA Trophy if the Ryman and Evo-Stik Leagues (Isthmian, Southern and Northern Premier – all nine divisions) were to be summer and the National Leagues - all three divisions - were still winter competitions.
The other big issue and – it effectively is the same argument against midseason breaks – is when would the seasons start and finish. At present, preseason starts at the very beginning of July, friendlies in mid- to late-July and the regular season in early- to mid-August. If the season started in six months later, preseason would be at the start of the new year, friendlies in mid- to late-January and the season kick-off would be early- to mid-February. The season would end in late October with playoffs in November.
Given that, in the past six years, we have had matches snowed off in October, November, December, January, February and March, when is the bad weather likely to hit? Also where would players train in preseason, if it is January. There would be no daylight for sessions and most grass surfaces would be far from ideal to run on, let alone try to kick footballs on. Also, it would not be possible to set up glamorous friendlies if the season for the Premier League, Championship, Leagues 1 and 2 and the three National Leagues were in full swing.
Another issue would be pitch maintenance. Pitches get relaid and new drainage work done in the summer when the grass is growing. This could not be done in the offseason in winter, because there is no grass growth and the soil is not going to recover either.