As VAR, vast transfer fees and overt commercialisation suck the soul and tradition out of football, games played in horrendous conditions on slide-tackle conducive pitches, seemingly offer a lifeline to the days before players wore gloves and dived. The good old days some might say.
However, the football authorities’ handling of Storm Ciara’s impact on the footballing calendar questions their regard of fans, players and quality of football.
Giving fixtures as much time as possible before deciding whether to cancel them might make sense to some, but these decisions negatively impact fans and potentially players.
Warnings from the police and the Environment Agency forecasted 80 mph winds over the weekend. This should have led to the FA and WSL enforcing blanket postponements for all fixtures to avoid any potential danger for travelling fans and teams.
Ash Head, owner of Isthmian League side Lewes FC requested a blanket postponement but claims to have been ignored. The lack of advice from relevant associations led to clubs and fans travelling around the country for matches that were then postponed. This then caused fans and teams to make potentially dangerous return journeys as Storm Ciara caused nationwide disruptions.
Head told the Telegraph, “Villa travelled at least part way to Durham and Sheffield were headed to London to play Charlton. Those teams now need to get home in dangerous conditions. A flag from the FA on Saturday morning could have saved a lot of wasted time and potentially unrecoverable costs.”
The fact that only the Women’s National League issued advice to clubs on Saturday, warning teams and fans not to travel, represents the disregard modern football has for fans. The juggernaut nature of modern football, seemingly means that the show must go on regardless of whether it is dangerous or financially detrimental for fans.
Had games gone ahead during Storm Ciara the quality would have suffered. Regardless of the romanticism of muddied warriors clattering into tackles or wind-swept goalkeepers rolling around in swamp-like six-yard boxes, football should have evolved past this.
Holding out for games in such conditions not only shows contempt for fans whose safety is compromised, but also for players who wouldn’t reap the physical benefits of a winter break after playing in a storm.
However, given the unstoppable force of modern football, it can only be forecast that those in power will keep trying to force fixtures to happen regardless of the weather, or fans…or players.
Last modified: 23rd February 2020