Following another raft of postponements this week, resulting from the inclement Manx winter weather; the fixture makers at the IOM FA find themselves circa 200 games behind schedule.
This scenario has become the norm and is a growing problem as clubs become more protective of their pitches and Island representative commitments grow; all adding to the bottleneck of re-arranged fixtures to be squeezed in before the end of the season.
As a player there is nothing worse than planning your weekend around a Saturday afternoon trot around the hallowed turf of your home pitch; only to receive the dreaded text “Sorry lads GAME OFF!”. Chances are you will now spend the best day of the week being dragged around Eden Park or B&Q; god forbid you gave the works do a miss so as not to hamper your performance.
There have long been calls for an overhaul of the Manx Football League; to keep the interest of players and supporters peaked for the duration of the season.
Two of the more common suggestions are:
- Move the league to the summer
- Switch from a 2 league format to a 3 league format
We will look at the pro’s and con’s of each below:
Pros of moving the season to benefit from the beautiful Manx summer weather
- Minimal postponements due to weather
- More spectators
- Warmer players, subs, managers
- Easier access to all weather facilities
- Reduced training costs to clubs as they can train on their own pitch in the evenings
- Evening games can be scheduled throughout the season due to the long summer nights
- Other winter sports could thrive as a result of a larger pool of available players
- Indoor sports – Handball, basketball, 5 a-side
- Avoid postponements resulting from clashes with the existing Island rep cup games
- Traditional summer sports such as Golf, athletics, cricket may suffer
- Players may miss part of the season as they go away for their traditional summer holidays
- Pitch availability – Several clubs host campsites for the TT period or sub let their pitches to cricket teams
- Grass burn! Slide tackling on dry grass = peeling your bed sheets from your grazed thigh at night
Do it; it’s an absolute no brainer! The pros far outweigh the cons. It would have the backing of the vast majority of the football community and with a bit a bit of flexibility most of the cons could be mitigated.
3 is a crowd
Pros of moving to a three-tier league system
- Games in each of the 3 leagues would be more competitive as there should a reduced gulf in ability between the top and bottom of each league
- When you are out of the title race you still have something to play for as the spectre of relegation will not be far away.
- Fewer teams in each league equals less games (too few), or play each other 3 times (who gets two home games against who?), or play each other 4 times (too many games)
- The bottom league would still have the problem of nothing to play for when they are out of the title race.
While there are certainly benefits to be had with this suggestion I feel that it would create its own new problems without fully dealing with the issues it is trying to address. As an alternative I would introduce a three up, three down promotion/relegation; with two automatic places and a play-off place. This would ensure that there is a chance of promotion down to 6th place in the 2nd division and also expand the squeaky bum time in the premier division to higher up the league.
With the play-offs replacing the Paul Henry this could be turned into a plate type trophy to be contested by teams falling at the first hurdle of the Woods cup. This should ensure that nearly every team has something to play for late on into the season.
Over to you the Manx public. What does everyone else think? Would the FA listen to or act on any of this?
Do we need to find a champion of Manx football to take this up with the powers that be and lobby for the changes to be made to progress the beautiful game?