WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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Bala snowWELSH Premier League secretary John Deakin says a move to summer football is a "no brainer".
"Provided the fixtures are timed properly I think it could have a significant effect on crowds," he told BBC Radio Wales.
"Aberystwyth moved heaven and earth to get a Friday night fixture on, they were clearing spectator areas, got the pitch fit and were rewarded by 219 spectators for a fixture which would normally have attracted between four and five hundred.
"It's a no brainer as far as I'm concerned, it's much better to go out and watch a game of football on a summer evening in short sleeves than going out like an eskimo in the middle of winter on a hard pitches.
"I think there are irrigation issues to look at but I don't see those as being unsurmountable."
While the views of the league's leading administrator have to be respected, there are a multitude of logistical hurdles to be overcome if the league is to switch from winter to summer, not least the prospect of bone dry pitches unless there is a major investment in sprinkler systems akin to the one installed at The Airfield, for which the cost per club is estimated at around £50,000.
  • Transition period
    Unless the league played a truncated first season of summer fixtures between, say, August and November, there would be a 10-month gap between the end of the last winter season and the first summer campaign and clubs involved in Europe would need to return to training in June before breaking again after they were eliminated in July/August.
  • Promotion/relegation
    Clubs relegated from the Welsh Premier at the end of November would have to wait until the following August to join either the Huws Gray Alliance or the Welsh League. Likewise, clubs in the feeder system that gain promotion in April or May, would be kicking their heels until the following March to join the top flight.
  • Welsh Cup
    The Welsh Premier clubs currently join the Welsh Cup at the third round stage, playing their ties at the end of October.
    A system would need to be devised to grant the 12 clubs an exemption until the later stages of the competition, which could be truncated into the spring months.
  • Player drain
    Unless the transfer window rules were amended, there is greater potential for Welsh Premier players to defect to the feeder leagues or the English pyramid between November and March, making it more difficult to retain playing squads during the close season.
  • Travel
    Long journey times for north/south fixtures would be exacerbated by summer holiday traffic, a problem for which there is no solution.
Meanwhile, blogging on icWales, Port Talbot press officer Mark Pitman says the problem this season has been caused by a failure to play sufficient fixtures in the early months of the campaign.
While Llanelli have played just 12 Welsh Premier fixtures to date, fellow south Wales club Newport County have already been involved in 22 Blue Square Premier games by playing midweek and on Bank Holiday Monday.
No Welsh Premier games were scheduled on those dates this season.
"The Blue Square Premier were making the most of the best weather and best playing surfaces of the season, why weren't the Welsh Premier League?" writes Pitman.
"Some cynics however will see it differently and more as a contrived and alternative approach to turn clubs around to summer football by causing the maximum amount of fixture congestion."
Photo: A frozen Maes Tegid, Bala.
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21 July 2017

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