Is change as good as a rest?

Dave Saltmanin Editorial

There's been talk, in recent weeks, about a winter break in football to allow the players to recover. It's an interesting debate, with many citing 'tradition' as one of the reasons not to.

Conversely, the home nations' poor performances at international tournaments (Wales a recent exception) is also considered a strong argument in favour, with player burnout regarded as the main contributory factor.

Interestingly, a fan poll on the BBC Sport website came out 54-46% in favour of a winter break, which may well have surprised a few onlookers.

Personally, I wouldn't advocate a winter break, but I find it ludicrous that the EFL want to play rearranged games in January and February instead of March, April, May when the pitches stand more chance of being able to recover. There should be more autumn and spring fixtures, coupled with a sensible schedule in the winter.

And, if the tradition is important, then retain the Boxing Day and new years day fixtures over the holiday period ... and that's it.

I doubt the fans would complain; it can't be much fun huddled in the stands watching their team on a freezing winter's day, being battered by strong winds and sideways rain, along with the inherent travel problems for away fans that Mother Nature hurls at us.

I suppose we have had a near perfect storm at Shrewsbury this year, but there are plenty of other examples at our level where pitches are teetering on the edge of catastrophe, or have already gone over. There's simply been too many wet games this year, coupled with an exhaustive fixture list.

In STFC's case, we have been victims of our own success, with good cup runs and a disproportionate amount of home draws. In January alone, we had to accommodate five games and seven training sessions, made worse when I think that many other clubs will have played only one or two games in that month.

Perhaps also the EFL should have a fund to help the lower league clubs invest in their stadiums and training grounds. Most of the Championship are okay, and some clubs in League One and Two also where investment has been historic. However, a £1m payment to each meritable club, to be invested entirely into the provision of better drainage, renovation etc., would be a small budget to find from the money paid down from the Premier League?

I understand the need for players recovery time, but the same is true of our natural turf pitches, so surely a more structured fixture list is the way to go?

And, before I hear someone call for 3G pitches, that won't work either. I speak to managers on a regular basis and they and the players simply don't like using the artificials at all.

Dave Saltman

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