The spate of postponements recently and the small crowds of mid-winter pose a few questions about the future of non-league football.
Although it’s unlikely that anyone will want to change the structure or calendar around football, there is a strong argument to adjust the way the game is played in this country, certainly at a semi-professional level.
Why? Midweek is one thing, with the distraction provided by Champions League football, but when the weather pays havoc with fixture lists and the blood circulation of the crowd (which invariably averages well over 50 years of age), it is worth considering a change.
So, I’m tabling a switch to a season that results in summer football. A campaign that begins in late March and ends in November. This gives non-league football the chance to have the football field to itself for at least two months. It also takes out the very cold months of December, January and February.
Some people are bound to ask about the FA Cup. Well for non-league clubs, that’s over by November, with the odd exception. The FA Trophy and FA Vase can be adjusted to fit the new paradigm.
Late spring and summer football would attract bigger crowds, of that I am certain. The bone-numbing midweek game would be a thing of the past and balmy afternoons watching football would become the norm. The school holidays would fall in the middle of the season, so there would be great opportunities to offer special deals to kids, including periphery activities like coaching courses. The new schedule may also change the demographics of the non-league game.
To accommodate a shorter season, the leagues could be reduced in size and maybe, just maybe, a better geographical mix might emerge. It’s time to make non-league football sensible and to stop competing with the big-time. It might just work.