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Beating the Weather

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 11/03/2013

ANOTHER season of postponements at non-league level has highlighted the vulnerability of the fixture list to the elements. I have a number of suggestions on how to improve this for next year, just in case anyone who has influence on these matters is reading.

Grimsby's match with Mansfield is not certain to go ahead on Tuesday night, although officials at Field Mill are hopeful it will beat the cold snap. However if its is postponed it will mean another Thursday or Monday game for Town, who are far from the worst affected club in the division.

  • The season is too short. Doubtless this is done to save on wages but as Blue Square Premier teams play the same number of league games as the Football League our season should be at least as long. It probably costs clubs far more in postponements than it does in wages saved making the season so short. Fans purses are only so big as well and stringing games over a few more weeks would enable the less well off to get to more games.

  • Don't schedule any midweek league games at all between December and March. Leave the whole period free for re-arranged matches. There'll be plenty of games postponed to fill these slots. Crowds will probably be bigger if there are more games when it's warmer.

  • Scrap replays in the FA Trophy. It should be like the JPT and be done and dusted on the night. Ideally the FA Trophy could be started earlier in the season as well.

  • Beef up the ground requirements for the Blue Square Premier League to meet certain criteria for drainage (I don't have the domain knowledge to know what these should be I'm afraid). Obviously the clubs already in the division would have to be given two years to meet these criteria or face relegation. A handful of teams seem to have been the main culprits this season when it comes to postponements, and it's not fair on everyone else.

  • Are too many games being called off? Are referees' criteria for calling games off too stringent? Are players more likely to get injured playing 3 or 4 games a week than they are playing occasionally on snow or a pitch with some surface water? Other sports like Rugby League seem to have a lots less postponements in their lower divisions. Why? In years gone by football was played on much worse conditions than it is now.

  • Allow the season to be extended if it gets dire. If that means losing a date for the play-off final at Wembley then so be it. But it's better than having a mockery of some teams playing 4-5 games a week in the last few days of the season - which will be grossly unfair to them and other clubs affected by the results. This should also be considered for this season.

    A combination of these suggestions could well help eradicate the problem as it appears heavy rain and extended cold spells are here to stay in the UK.

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