Sunday, 5 December 2010

Welcome to the winter break

So here we go again. Postponements of postponements, lost revenues for those who can afford it least, fixture pile-ups, wasted journeys, twiddling thumbs, and misery for all involved. Yet the 'traditionalists' will tell us that all this is far better than the horror of 'summer football' (that is, a March-October season for the lower leagues in Scotland, akin to what appears to be working quite well in Ireland and elsewhere). I confess, I just don't get it anymore. The issue isn't whether we have a winter break. We get one every year, in case you hadn't noticed! The only difference is that under the current denial-based set-up, we get it on the worst possible terms with little predictability or control. Madness.

In the old days (a.k.a. the '70s), I quite enjoyed watching matchstick men chasing an orange bauble around a snowbound pitch. But we now live in a risk-averse (and, more to the point, litigious) world where even a playable pitch is not enough if there is ice on the streets around the stadium. With a heroic effort, three dozen volunteers working all night and a highly cooperative local authority, Alloa Athletic performed wonders with their plastic pitch to put on the only football match in Scotland, against Peterhead, on Saturday. But national attention and the 600 who turned up aside, it isn't a credible strategy for facing up to worsening winters. Bring on reform... and, I suppose, the flying pigs.

Picture: Brechin's ground covered in snow, minus the planned match with Dumbarton on 4 December. The fixture has been replanned for the 14th. If it goes ahead, I won't be there because of work commitments. But I wouldn't be holding my breath anyway. Image courtesy of DFC.


Alan Findlay said...

Simon, no-one, admittedly 'yet' has come up with an alternative football calendar that takes account of the many obstacles in the way of so-called 'summer football'.

It's a utopian dream and not possible.

Don't forget too that originally a winter break in Scotland, originated by the SPL, was intended not to take into account the weather, but to give players a 'rest'.

Alan Findlay said...

Oh, and please add in the following to the argument.

Ireland is cited as a way to do it (summer football). Bollocks. Their league(s) is nothing more than a glorified amateur set-up. They don't have the player base as in Scotland - internationalists - which is better for them.

It's an impractical non-starter.

Simon Barrow said...

You are probably right, and I'm probably just being a devil's advocate. But while I can see the argument against for the SPL (not all of whose members see the problems as unsolvable, btw), the SFL is not that much different from the LoI, surely? A break in December and January wouldn't solve all problems (games are lost in November and February too) but it would surely be better than the present unplanned and costly disruptions? Why not simply have midweek games scheduled in March and April anyway? It's not beyond the wit of football wo/man to figure this out. Anyway, see you at the Airdrie and Brechin games... oh, hang on, they're off! ;)

Alan Findlay said...

And to crank up the debate a little, along comes Neil Doncaster and his SPL chums with tales of league re-construction under the banner of 'progress'.

As they say almost everywhere now, "you couldn't make it up".