FA hints at summer football with grassroots initiative
Initial moves are being made at the English game’s grassroots level to start the football season during early summer.
The Russell Foster Tyne and Wear Youth League will be subject to a decision on its fixtures being played in the summer.
The league has been hit by 14 weeks of cancellations due to bad weather and member clubs will have their chance to choose whether or not to move to a summer league to avoid such problems in the future.
The plan is to start the season on 1 June. At the end of November, the season would then take a break before starting up again in mid-February, with the campaign drawing to a conclusion at the end of April.
John Topping, secretary of the Durham FA, which governs the Russell Foster League, is a national FA Council member and developed the idea.
Topping said: “It’s simply common sense. In effect we are having a winter break anyway, but it isn’t planned and children are becoming very frustrated by games being called off week after week. This is about improving the experience of football for the young people who play it.
“Through the summer matches go ahead, people are all in shorts and T-shirts, the pitches are in good condition, the whole atmosphere is completely different and more pleasant.
“I think there will be a general move towards summer football and I would love to see it happen in 11-a-side.”
It is an issue brought into sharp focus by events in the Premier League this season, with several games being called off up and down the country and echoed higher up at European level.
County football associations are free to sanction 11-a-side matches in June if they see fit, following a recent significant amendment to the rules, and Topping believes the past two cold winters have made it inevitable that more football in England will shift into the more agreeable climes of summer.