New debate, old topic, old debate, new topic

Date: 9th March 2021

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

Summer football…

Imagine that…

If we cannot get it all done in the wintertime, let’s extend the whole thing into the summer.

Anyone got any negatives?

Well, the big one might be that a sport which is struggling with its finance would have problems trying to make the wages over the summer if their whole budget for playing staff went on the winter wage bill.

OK, I get it.

But perhaps we need to look at how we package things getter. After all the Hearts v ICT game that hit capacity through supporters managed to show that online watching can bring the punters in. (Pesky thing those supporters… with their 50% contribution to the state of football’s finances)

Have we not already seen how the creative industries, the Amazon Prime, the Sky Go, the Netflix generation have shown the way though?

In short, we consume things through our TVs in volumes hitherto not seen before. Can we not also watch the brave souls who are trying to do their best for Stenhousemuir as well as the latest episode of the Kardashian’s?

But it is a winter sport, they cry…

Is it? I mean I like getting soaked through to the skin as much as the next guy, or trying to keep the rain from washing the filling out my pie or shivering without being able to feel my toes whilst a midweek 0-0 draw in a relegation battle plays out in front of me as keenly as the next idiot who paid for their season ticket to support the team unable to avoid the drop… But…

Creature comforts.

This is no longer the 1970’s.

There are those who can call me soft and a snowflake as much as they want – ahm no caring. But the idea of suffering for entertainment is so last century. If you can increase your experience of watching a concert, can see other sports going outside when there is sunshine and when there is a bigger prospect of sunshine than rain, and be the top priority and the best option for spectators then we should pay attention. Other wise what is likely to happen is that people shall vote with their buttons on their remotes and not come out to see live football because it is live on the TV. Sitting watching Brentford v Gillingham at home with your feet up versus Livingston against Dundee United midweek in the frost?

“We should stay playing in the winter” smacks, to me, of macho nonsense.

That Jim Goodwin, much admired boss of the Buddies has mentioned it as a solution to the current issues in the pandemic is to me, timely.

In his BBC reported interview he stated, “I know we’ve had that debate previously, but for me it just makes sense. Let’s stop playing football in the winter, when there’s a much higher risk of this kind of flu, and let’s try and play the game in the better weather.A lot of countries who do summer football have had better attendances. I know we like the idea of playing over Christmas and new year but that’s when sickness bugs are at their highest. So maybe that’s the conversation we should be having this season or the season after.”

It so is…

I truly believe that summer football should be here, not just to get us through the pandemic but forever. I think we should embrace it and campaign for the rest of the world to do it too. There are increasing numbers of countries that I am finding out about who have already done that. That the likes of Italy and Spain and the Mediterranean don’t has more to do with how mild their winters are and how fierce their summers could be and I can get why they might not want the change but come on.

We are a country much further away from the equator and the stories of daring do and how we suffer for our time are apocryphal and should be consigned to the history books rather than brought out to future generations as examples of how you need to prove your passion.

Future supporters will not bite and prove anything.

They shall not just go and play FIFA on their Xbox. They simply will give up coming to see live football. Of course, right now they are getting a feast of it through the TV but the time when Stenhousemuir against Cowdenbeath can sustain a crowd, that can sustain a football club is and will always be in the 21stCentury a perilous one. If we can make the switch, see how we get on and then dispassionately look at it at the end of a season, perhaps have the meeting outdoors, in mid October? Just so they can prove their passion?

But I am not alone. In a BBC Scotland poll 75% of Scotland’s top flight clubs said they would consider switching. Imagine they had a medium to take that forward… Like a club thing where they were all members, and they could just vote for it eh?

Who am I kidding…

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