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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Summer Football?

Football, soccer to any U.S.A. readers, is traditionally a winter sport. Until the time, a few years ago, when television contracts dictated games were played on a Sunday or a Friday or even a Thursday evening most games were played on a Saturday afternoon. Sure, there were some midweek games (I am talking about league games not any cup games) especially at Easter and Christmas time, but, outside of those periods mentioned, these were a relatively rare occurrence that usually happened when a club had a fixture backlog to catch up on.

Now there is talk of summer football. Especially in Scotland where even on a good day the weather is decidely a lot worse. Frost, snow and heavy rain is the norm in Scotland. Moving to a summer season would alleviate, though not entirely stop, the the inevitable cancellation of games that comes with the territory and therefore the season end backlog of fixtures. Is it a good idea or not?

Myself is a huge Rugby League fan (in previous, younger years I played at amateur level and even though I was never an 'good' player i was decent and could play in several positions) though I do follow and and all our local teams, even some amateur ones. Since Rugby League moved to a summer fixture, prior to which it too was traditionally a winter sport but unlike football was played on a Sunday,  as a spectacle it has come on in leaps and bounds. The play is faster, the play is more 'open', the genaral game is all the better for moving from a cold  winters afternoon to a generally warm, or at least warmer, summer afternoon.

But, would football gain the same benefits? I think it would. Pitches would be less likely to be prone to the ball sticking in the mud, sometimes  quagmires.  It would also alleviate the ball   skidding off the grass. These two things alone would see, or should see, a better standard of game which in turn brings on the players who would benefit with better skills. Some say that playing on a rain soaked or mud splattered pitch brings its own skill levels but remember that the English Premier League teams have undersoil heating systems which means for them they practically play on a summer like playing surface anyway so moving to a summer season wouldn't be such a big hassle. For the lower  divisions and in Scotland in particular, the move to a summer season would level the field a a little.

Realise also that while the quality of football would be improved there is also, for the travelling fans who sometimes travel long distances, there is less chance of a game being called off at the last minute due to a sudden downpour that waterlogged the pitch or a sudden cold snap that made the pitch dangerous for players.

I reckon a move to summer football will overall be a good move. Will they do it? In Scotland the chances are higher and I have this nagging feeling that English clubs will not like the idea at all. Time will tell in both cases.

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