I sat down to write an article whinging about the number of midweek games we will have to play this season and after a couple of beers and a few re-writes I came to the conclusion that the FA must be a racist organisation.
Bear with me. I’ll get there eventually.
While maths was never my strong point I figured out fairly quickly that you can’t play 46 league games in 40 weekends, so we are going to have to tolerate a few more cold evenings on the terraces than last season. It’s basic arithmetic. More teams in the league means more games.
Hopefully under Rafa’s stewardship we now have the strength in depth to cope with a few more midweek games without running out of options.
But then you have to consider all of those extra cup games that we expect to be playing in this year. And it’s not just that – what about the ones we won’t play in? Sorry – but it’s just habit!
We will no doubt write off a couple or 3 weekends just because other teams are playing. It’s too much to expect that someone at the FA could figure out “well this team are out the cup, and so are they – maybe instead of just sitting on their backsides they could actually play their league match?”
Nope, that would come frighteningly close to resembling “organisation”, and that’s just pushing the boundaries too far.
Last season some of the better Championship teams played 15 midweek games, so we should expect to be doing the same. As if our injury record isn’t bad enough, we could end up needing a new extension to the Michael Owen wing of the physio block.
There’s nothing like a midweek match in early January to remind you what being a football fan in the North East of England is all about.
This is all good stuff, but my favourite gripe about losing weekends (not to alcohol) has to be the international breaks. Apparently the “break” bit refers to the playing schedule, not what they do to our players. Owen, Krul and Elliot spring immediately to mind.
The entire league system grinds to a halt because we are playing a World Cup Qualifier against Slovakia and the FA is concerned that if they allow Preston North End to play against Burton Albion on the same weekend it might somehow negatively affect their revenue on the gate at the Stadion Antona Malatinskeho?
Of course, some might argue that losing players to the international game weakens teams so it’s only fair to cancel every game.
How can they justify cancelling an entire league program when not a single player from any Championship team was selected for Allardyce’s squad?
Cancelling a weekend game and playing it midweek in, say, any month, will have a detrimental effect on the income of the concerned teams, but that doesn’t seem to worry the FA too much. With our fanatical support we are probably one of the least affected teams as our season ticket fees counter such schedule anomalies, but surely other teams must suffer unnecessarily?
I propose that as an annex to the Financial Fair Play regulations the FA consider using these internationals as a handicapping system.
First of all, play internationals midweek (or Sundays) but do not clear the schedule for them.
Secondly, if teams like Man U, Spurs, City, Chelsea, The Arse and Liverpool have squads bulging to breaking point with international players then they have obviously spent too much money and have an unfair advantage over the rest of us. As a result, when international games are on, those teams should be made to play without their superstars.
Ahhhhh yes – I can feel the satisfaction oozing out of my pores just at the very thought!
Seems like a damn good idea to me.
So how did I come to the conclusion that the FA is racist?
Well, I sent an email to the FA asking them to confirm that there will be an extended International break from the 14th January through to the 5th February due to the African Cup of Nations, which as you are all surely aware impacts significantly on the quality of team that we can field at that time.
Apparently while friendlies, Euro and World Cup Qualifiers all earn a break the African Cup of Nations does not warrant such special treatment.
Personally, I think that in this modern politically correct world, the FA is treading on very thin ice!
Next week – the offside rule and why it has to go!
So how many people do you reckon attend a premier league match each weekend?
Obviously not every club has the amazing levels of support that we have at SJP but we must be looking at an average of 35,000 per ground multiplied by 10 matches – 350,000 people whose entire Saturday revolves around their club match every week.
I’m not saying that I have a sad existence but I really do look forward to my football each weekend.
So I never really got my head around the necessity for international breaks, especially when a manager puts out a second string team playing 11 substitutes against Mongolia and the outer Hebrides! Why disrupt the weekend of many just for those relatively few who would travel to watch an International? It’s also taking revenue from the club. Something’s not quite right about clearing a sunny Saturday in September and rescheduling to a Wednesday night in December when we’d be happy to take the 35k people.
My suggestion would be that all internationals should be played midweek so that real football can continue uninterrupted throughout the year. The schedules are gruelling enough without throwing in worthless international equivalents of pre-season friendlies.
But what about poor Manchester United / City and the like who have an entire squad made up of international players? It would be unfair on them not to have a break. Call it a handicapping system. If you are going to buy your way to the titles by paying through the nose to have your team lined with international stars then you should be made to play without them when they are on international duty.
I have to say that these international breaks really do wind me up.
Maybe they should open up the grounds so fans can “socialise”. Invite Sunderland fans up for coffee and a chat!