Non league should be played in the summer. Only this week the non league programme was decimated by a plethora of cancellations. It’s likely to happen again sometime before the end of the season as well. The reality of this is that many clubs are out of pocket for unrecoverable match day expenses. A case of who didn’t eat all the pies! In addition there will be the inevitable backlog of games being played during the final few weeks as teams play catch up due to games that were cancelled weeks before due to the weather. This in turn leads to tired players as depleted squads compete in a lot of cases for places in their league play off or cup finals. Non league doesn’t have the squad sizes of the full time game and most players have already done a day’s work (and trained twice a week) before they even put their boots on.

There has to be a better solution. Summer football for non league and amateur football. Right that’s it sorted.

Not as easy as that though is it? There would be some tough decisions to make. I would start from Con North and South downward. Put the Conference into the football league as an extra division and regionalise the full time game below the PL and Championship to cut down on travelling and expenses. FA Trophy would be the new main competition for all non league and the FA Vase staying as it is. As for the FA Cup Old Etonians were the last real amateur club to win the FA Cup – and that was in 1892!!!!!! Spurs were the last team from outside the football league to win it and that was 1908. It’s going to be won for the next 100 years by a PL club so despite all the dreaming of Wembley and the big pay day for the non leaguers they are few and far between for non league. It’s a great competition but the truth is that no one starting in August is likely to be left in by October. Leave it to the full timers with an option for non league to declare an optional interest in entering.

The Football league should start in October and have a winter break. The one problem would be promotions from the top tiers of non league as the football league and non league wouldn’t be running in parallel. I’m sure some think tank could come up with a solution. Non league and semi pro clubs are in the main community based clubs so summer football would bring with it the advantage of better pitches, warmer weather and less chance of weather cancellations and infinitely would add to the value an attraction of non league. Without the distraction of the full time league programme it could bring much welcomed extra support and income into non league. As one of my friends said on LinkedIn said “summer football attractive for families (no standing in the cold with kids); attractive for television deal (competing vs Rugby league!); save money on floodlighting. Way forward! “ Sorted.

As for promotions. This is England (and Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire) and there should NEVER be closed shop mentality that is currently practiced by the Rugby League (Super League) Even clubs at the bottom upward should not be denied promotions to go with their aspirations and this would remain intact providing a move into the football league could be coordinated for those moving from the regional top tiers of the non league game. I’m sure there’s more to think about. Let the revolution begin. The Rugby Football Union split over 100 years ago albeit for different reasons and I’m not advocating this split in the great game but time has come to give serious consideration to the legacy of the lower echelons of the beautiful game and the constant fight for survival of some great old clubs crippled by the winter weather.

More next time…………………………………

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The Adam Doyle Column

Non-League

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