The English FA

Today I witnessed a Football Association spokesman say “we’re not discussing a winter break in any way”. I can safely say it made my blood boil. Why, oh why are the FA so averse to change? It’s bordering on the ridiculous. Now, I’m not pushing my own agenda or simply belittling those who disagree with me, my incredulity is based on the fact that he openly said they’re “not discussing” the possibility. Is this based on expert opinion and advice? Nah it’s not being discussed. Is this based on research? Nah it’s not being discussed. Is this, in any way, based on the best interests of football? Nah, it simply isn’t being discussed. Get around a table and discuss it you morons. If you’re dismissive for too long the EPL will have a vote and just decide to abandon the League Cup, or something along these lines. It seems like if it’s a tricky subject it’s just avoided completely, it’s the same scenario when an English side are in the latter stages of European Competition, just help out on an ad-hoc basis rather than just dismissing it because it’s too difficult to accommodate everyone.

My opinion is a winter break would be beneficial for everyone involved. As a fan, it would reduce the fixture pile up in December and allow me to budget much easier. Also, the players wouldn’t have to encounter the idiocy of having to play a game 48 hours after their previous fixture (no more boring/hectic fixtures due to tired legs). Well rested players can only assist us in Europe as well, we’re already behind the big boys so let’s not make things worse. Some players would also be more open to joining an English club if it meant they could go back to their own country for a small break mid-season.

English football history is littered with instances of the FA being stubborn; they were completely against English teams competing in Europe, they were adamant that football shouldn’t be on TV, they were insistent that the Premier League shouldn’t be formed (the original 22 teams had to break away from the Football League) and now it’s a potential winter break. The thing that confuses me so much is that these decisions always come back to bite them, yet they never learn; European football quickly became the pinnacle, TV opened up the beautiful game to billions and the EPL has been a 25 year cash cow – these are all areas in which the FA could’ve benefited hugely. Maybe it would’ve allowed them to build a stadium they could afford.

I do concede that all football associations are hindered, sometimes, by external influences. Safe Standing is something the FA have openly said they would like to see introduced. Current government legislation doesn’t allow this (legislation based on the police killing Liverpool fans and then covering it up for 20-odd years). Hopefully common sense will prevail on this subject soon – perhaps we’ll be allowed a drink, too. Goal-line technology was always supported by the FA, this wasn’t in keeping with their usual policy but credit where it’s due – FIFA were the brick wall in front of them in this instance.

Now I’ve had my rant I’d like to point out that it’s not all bad, English football does protect its heritage and looks after the so called smaller teams. Would I like to watch 3pm kick offs on TV? Yep, of course, but I totally agree with the decision to forbid that. The teams in our lower leagues have fantastic attendance figures, this is certainly influenced by the FA’s reluctance to budge on this matter. England are also pioneers in the pursuit of inclusion and don’t just talk about “kicking it out” – they punish any form of discrimination and other countries give glowing praise to us in this area.

I hope the English Football Association will get the right people in the right positions, at board level. This will allow them to embrace progression and perhaps even lead it – the current format is to let someone else suggest something, immediately reject it, fight against it for a few years and then concede ground when they look like cave men. I have very little confidence in this, however – the huge stadium debt that they’ve incurred will force them to make decisions based on money for a few years yet. Hooray, a few more years of looking at empty seats at Wembley… Why not just put those seats out of view of the cameras? Sigh.

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