Winter break not welcome

PUBLISHED: 09:51 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

THE WEATHER took its toll once more on Saturday, with football fixtures called off all over the country. Even games in the Premier League fell victim to frozen pitches with Fulham and Portsmouth both seeing their games called off while locally all the Sp

THE WEATHER took its toll once more on Saturday, with football fixtures called off all over the country.

Even games in the Premier League fell victim to frozen pitches with Fulham and Portsmouth both seeing their games called off while locally all the Spartan South Midlands and Herts Senior County games were postponed.

Whether British football should adopt a winter break or not has been a hotly debated issue for a long time but with recent events it is a topic that has been bought back into the public eye.

However after speaking to several local managers it is something that would not be welcomed in this area.

One manager who is opposed to a mid-season hiatus is Park Street Village boss Ryan Thompson. Thompson argues that if the season was extended into the summer they'd face the same problems with dangerous pitches that they do during the winter. "I don't think we should," he commented. "The week we have off over Christmas is our winter break. We need to work through the winter because the pitches in the summer are just as bad. In pre-season friendlies we pick up a lot of injuries because the pitches are bone dry. These aren't top pitches, a lot of them are council pitches, and it's just like playing on frozen pitches."

This is a thought echoed by Colney Heath manager Scott Lacey who says his players have a long enough season as it is. "No I'm not one for a winter break. It's a long season as it is. My boys have been in from July 1 and they'll be working until the May 1, doing Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday for 38 or 39 weeks.

"If you have a month off over Christmas and extend the league that only leaves them with six weeks with their families."

Lacey says that clubs that enjoy cup runs often face fixture backlogs anyway as they look to fit the additional cup ties into their fixture lists.

"It's tradition and I'm all for tradition. If you are successful and have cup runs you're going to have to play midweek anyway."

Extending the season would also cause problems for clubs who use council pitches as these are often already allocated to cricket clubs in the summer months.

One problem that does face these clubs when the games are postponed is a loss of revenue, both from takings on the gate and behind the bar, as Lacey points out: "Losing the bar revenue is the big problem. We'll take £1,000 on a Saturday game and we wouldn't do anything like that on a Tuesday and that's a problem. People don't realise how much it costs. It costs £40,000 just to run Colney Heath at this level. We're having a whip round at the moment to pay for new bulbs for the floodlights down the bottom where we train and that's going to cost £1,000."

It's not just managers who are against a winter break with fans also voicing their opposition to the idea. St Albans City Supporters Club member Peter Knock says that the weather is too unpredictable to have a set break. "It can be warm in December and snow in February. It's got to be played throughout the year.

"Summer football is a bit artificial. If it's a really hot day it'll be played at walking pace."

Peter also points out that he, like many other fans, enjoys going to football over the festive period. This is also a time when clubs traditionally get bigger attendances for local derbies.

It's clear that such a change to the football calendar would be unpopular. The unpredictable nature of the weather is a big problem and if there was a winter break teams could find themselves in the situation of being sat indoors when the pitches are perfectly playable, only for unseasonal weather to cause havoc later on in the season.

As Lacey says: "It isn't broken so why do anything?

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