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Dalymount ParkWHILE Welsh Premier administrators are urging summer football, their counterparts in the Irish Republic are contemplating a move in the opposite direction.
Ironically, FAW officials used their experiences on a fact-finding mission to Ireland on which to base their call for a switch to summer and a reduced-size top flight in Wales.
Last week, league secretary John Deakin said summer football was a "no-brainer" but, according to the Irish Independent, the Football Association of Ireland "faces a headache" over future fixture scheduling after a majority of clubs said they would prefer a return to winter football and a larger, 16-club league, at a summit in Athlone.
"With clubs having already agreed to stay under the FAI's control beyond 2011, they were invited to send proposals outlining their vision for the future," says the newspaper.
"The introduction of a 16-team Premier Division is their main aim, but a vote in favour of switching back to a winter campaign was passed by 12 votes to nine.
"Summer football was introduced in 2003, and is credited with delivering improved results in European competition.
"However, a number of regional clubs feel their crowds have dropped due to clashes with the GAA (Gaelic Football), holidays and alternative attractions.
"They believe moving the calendar back in line with the UK might also remove player registration problems."
However, Derry City manager Stephen Kenny says that a return to winter football would be a step in the wrong direction.
Although he conceded that winter football does have some redeeming features, Kenny said that a return would be to the detriment of creative players.
"The stadiums and pitches in the League of Ireland are not as progressive as some of those in England and Scotland; in bad weather Irish pitches cut up very easily," said Kenny.
"I think that when the League of Ireland changed its format to summer football it really benefited players, it meant that the creative player was able to play their kind of football.
"If the League of Ireland go back to winter football it would mean the return of the more physical player. Midfields would be overflowing with four across the pitch and any kind of creativity would be negated by poor playing surfaces."
Meanwhile in Scotland, former First Minister Henry McLeish has been producing a review of Scottish Football and is also urging a change in the season.
After watching just 3,314 spectators turn up for Motherwell's league match against Hearts on Tuesday night, he feels a summer season will be on the cards sooner rather than later.
"I had a positive afterthought when looking at a winter break and starting the season in July," he said.
"We already talk about shifting the calendar for kids and women's football to find the best months in the year.
"That could potentially be from March to October. If we're in the mood for ideas and change, why don't we do it with the senior game?
"The two recommendations I made about playing in July and a winter break naturally lead you to think about summer football.
"I'm a firm believer that over time the game should move to a more positive 'weather window'. It's something we should look at seriously in the interests of the game," he added.
Photo: The Dalymount Park, Dublin home of Bohemians.
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