When the Football Central Sunday’s Management Committee, via Zoom Meeting, unanimously agreed to trial “Summer Football” for two years earlier this week, the decision was met within 24 hours by numerous opinions in the For and Against Camps, writes Tom Scott.
I broke the news on Tuesday morning that 2021 and 2022 will be used as a tester in the new Football Central Lanarkshire Division. If this season goes ahead, the finishing line will be November.
Season 2022 would operate between February and November Football Central Sunday’s President Alex McDowall said “We believe this is a natural step in the development of Football Central, and continues the progression.”
I can now exclusively reveal Motherwell Villa AFC Manager Joe Stafford was the man behind what could be a major game- changer in Amateur Football circles, and he was only too willing to give me the inside story on the build-up to Monday’s decision.
He said: “I approached Alex and the guys at Football Central last year to create a new Division around Lanarkshire ,and the idea at that time was for it to be played in the Summer months. We kept it Winter due to time constraints really, but Covid-19 got us thinking again. The idea came about chatting with the Committee, and then running it past the teams. I think that Amateur Football being played in the Summer months is a great idea due to the horrible weather we do get in Scotland, but also helps with players being more involved in football over decent or at least better weather.”
“We have looked at a few stumbling blocks we may come across with the idea, and do have workarounds for them. One of the big stumbling blocks that we came across – and we have had feedback about – was players going on holiday. We have some great football heads on the Committee at Football Central, and also really switched on to help us plan everything ahead. Being able to plan the Divisions fixtures in advance can let the managers run their team better and more proactively, so they can say to players we have games here and here for example, but then can request for a change of fixture to a midweek on that to help.”
“We have seen a lot of positives in the idea of moving our season to cover the Summer months. Biggest positive is the weather. Over the past 4 years of running Motherwell Villa AFC, we would on some occasions not get our season started back after winter until end of January / February. One big thing I noticed is a lot of teams would fold around this time due to not being able to field a team. Much of this is due to people who did not want to get out on a freezing cold Sunday Morning to play football , but other reasons are a lot of guys work nights , or happen to be out on a Saturday night, which stops a player getting up on the Sunday to run about a park.”
“Having December and January off will give a massive boost to teams we believe as they can stop properly, and rather than coming back to the middle of a season, they are starting on a complete fresh, new season feeling as such. This is massive I believe as teams are not looking at 6/7 months to then start fresh they are looking positively at 2 months.”
“Another big push is people want to get fit and get back into football in the New Year. You always see an influx of people looking for new teams in January, but sometimes teams don’t want to change too much if looking at going for a trophy.”
“Another bonus for lads on a Sunday is being able to go to have a beer after games in good weather. This would be more welcomed by people in good weather after playing a game rather than in winter. If your freezing cold the last thing you want to do is go for a beer, whereas good weather changes that, and in turn I believe might help Clubs with sponsorship.”
“Just now I feel a lot of people want to play in the Summer Pre-Season. Teams play twice, sometimes 3 times a week, rather than training. With the Lanarkshire League, we can make that happen, but competitive football being on offer. Having lads out kicking a ball about, keeping fit both mentally and physically, is a plus point for me also.”