P&WD League considering earlier start for next season
CITY football boss Ian Leonard is calling for an earlier start to the season after an increasing number of washed-out matches.
The Plymouth and West Devon Saturday League has lost an astonishing 140 matches to wet weather and waterlogged pitches up to Christmas this season, compared to 94 at the same point last season.
The Sunday League is already 80 down, as opposed to 60 last season.
Leonard conceded his biggest headache is trying to shoehorn those games into the rest of this season's schedule.
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The league chairman and general secretary – who is responsible for fixtures – said: "This year has been absolutely dreadful – we have played 196 games on Saturday and lost 140.
"I've been involved for 50 years and I can't remember anything like this.
"Last year (season), we didn't lose a match up to November.
"This season, we've had matches postponed in August, which is ridiculous."
Leonard added: "What is worrying is that we haven't yet reached the normal wet months of January and February.
"The (Plymouth City) council likes us to finish using their pitches by the end of April.
"But if things continue like they are, then I can see us playing until the end of May."
Leonard said a study of records going back to the 2009/10 season suggested the football season was getting wetter.
In 2009/10, 98 games were postponed up to Christmas in the Saturday League, with 85 sharing the same fate on Sundays.
The following season, the figures were 95 and 74 respectively.
By 2011/12, the number of postponements was 94 on Saturdays and 60 on Sundays.
Leonard said he felt increasing the frequency of games because of postponements had an adverse effect on players.
He said: "I'm already looking at some teams playing three times a week.
"I feel sorry for those who have jobs and they have to get away to play, or who have families.
"And how do the players who play on Saturday and Sunday cope?
"We're supposed to be doing this for fun, yet we know when players are playing too many games, discipline problems increase because people are tired.
"They also end up getting injured because they play too much."
Leonard added: "Another problem is that teams playing on 3G (hi-tech artificial) pitches will be in the position of playing all their home games, then having to wait weeks before they can play their away games because of postponements.
"It may be that this weather is unusual, a freak, but I've got a feeling it may not be.
"If that's the case, we've got to look at what we can do about it.
"There are 3G pitches – I know more are being built in Plymouth.
"But one thing I will be discussing with clubs is the possibility of starting the season a month earlier to try to get games played.
"We have to agree to do something, so I'm going to bring the situation up with clubs at a meeting in March.
"It's certainly something that's got to be discussed at our annual general meeting in June."