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Please note: Only bona fide club members registered with their club in the Whole Game System, or club officers registered with the League, may answer questions.
The issue with publishing fixtures is not that we cannot do this - for an entire season if we wanted - but that no sooner have done so they will change. Until 2003 a full season's fixtures were issued at the start of the season. The final fixtures were scheduled for February, and each time a fixture had to be moved it was slotted in to the earliest available weekend.
However, since that time it has become harder and harder to avoid changes. The main two causes of changes are County FA Cup ties (usually AFA, but also Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and London) and weather. Other reasons include teams using their one 'get out of jail free card' to withdraw from a fixture without the teams below being affected.
All County FA Cup ties take priority over every other kind of fixture and when one is postponed it is automatically rescheduled for the following Saturday. We have no control over that and it is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Weather is obviously a problem we all face and we hope that clubs will do their upmost to find alternative venues to ensure games are played but, at the same time, we cannot force clubs to do this. In some areas there are plenty of such facilities at affordable rates while in others they are scarce. Some would say we shouldn't have 'get out of jail free' cards, and it is certainly frustrating to see how many weddings seem to be planned at two weeks' notice, but we have just as much pressure - if not more - to be 'flexible' and allow such breaks as we do to ensure games are played. In other words, we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. It's also worth noting that it can be simply bad luck if your team comes up against three other sides in a row, each of which uses this 'out'.
The examples above are direct reasons for games being called off. But they have knock-on effects which can cause other games to be called with the players affected having no idea why their game has gone down. Here is an example:
Old Reds and Old Greens each have four teams and two home pitches. On the 1st, Old Reds 2s host Old Greens 2s in an AFA Cup tie. On the 8th, both clubs' 1st and 3rd teams are home while their 2nd and 4th teams are away. But the AFA tie is postponed and must not be played on the 8th. This means that, regardless of which club hosts the tie, one of them will now have three home games and only two pitches. They can, of course, ask their opponents to bring kick-offs forward to allow them to double up, but they may not be able to do that and ultimately the games will have to be played at 2pm unless everyone agrees otherwise. So now the League Match Sec has to move the Old Reds 3rd team game to accommodate the 2nd team. They will now play AFC Orange away. But if AFC don't have a spare pitch, their existing home game will now need to move. The domino-effect goes on and on.
The SAL attempts to provide assistant referees for all Senior Division 1 matches. Beyond this it does so where it can. However, for every match that receives two assistants, two lower league matches must go without league appointed officials. In addition, some clubs balk at the cost of a referee and assistant (each team, home/away, pays for one assistant). While we are receiving more comments about refereeing appointments than anything else, it's not practical to take referees away from games to create a better experience for a small few.
This has been considered many times but for the time being the SAL does not feel it would benefit the League to have club affiliated match officials involved. The basis for this view is the response of League allocated officials who prefer to referee without assistants than to rely on assistants with ties to the participating clubs which can be of wildly varying standards of knowledge of the Laws of the Game and ability to resist the pressures of club mates. We will continue to monitor the situation, but for now this is a no go for us.
Why do we have to travel so far for games? We're amateurs - we don't want to spend our whole Saturday travelling!
We regularly canvass League participants to find out at what level they want to see regionalised football. In the survey conducted in 2017 people said they wanted it from the Junior Section, so that's what we did. In the survey in 2020 they said Intermediate. It was too late to impact the 2020/21 season but the proposal for 2021/22 will reflect that.
While we could regionalise the entire league, right up to the Senior Section, that's not what we are about. There are local leagues to play in already, and it reduces the standing of the league for it to become a collection of local divisions with teams playing the same opponents every few weeks. The top teams in the SAL are respected throughout non-League football as being among the best amateurs in the country. To regionalise the league to that top level would reduce the level of competition and possibly drive some of the better clubs away.
It is worth considering that the introduction of regionalised football in 2003 has not diminished the decline in our football. There is a trend in adult 11-a-side football generally which has seen numbers drop exponentially in the last twenty years. We are pleased to report that we have stemmed the flow somewhat, compared to other competitions, but we don't believe that reducing the league to a patchwork of small, unrelated leagues will offer an appealing prospect for potential new clubs and players.