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Craven League chairman defends fixture planning
9:58am Thursday 7th June 2012 in Football
Craven League chairman Gerry Aldersley has given a detailed response to criticism of the competition’s fixture planning.
It follows comments from Cowling manager Chris Jones in last week’s Craven Herald when he spoke of his frustration at his Premier Division title-chasing team being awarded walkovers in their last two matches and urged the league to look at starting its season earlier.
Aldersley has been keen to highlight the difficulties in managing the league’s fixtures.
He said: “Some of our member clubs’ ground share with cricket clubs which means at the start and end of our season games cannot be played on Saturdays or in some cases not at all. Others use council controlled grounds which are also dual use “Each season we try to start in early September with night games for teams who have problems with cricket and Saturday games for the others.
“We then hit our first problem with teams postponing Saturday games because players are still involved in cricket.
“Many of our clubs enter the West Riding County FA Cup Comp- etitions which take place on the first Saturday in each month.
“Here again we have clubs postpone games because they are in these competitions.
“We also have to contend with the District Cup Competitions which are held on the third Saturday of every month. Both these competitions take priority over league games.
“This means that clubs, who are not involved, have their games called off at short notice because we have not been informed of the fixture clash.
“It is not unusual for clubs to have only played three or four league games by early November because they have been involved in both sets of competitions.”
He added: “The last few seasons have been ruined by bad weather which meant that games were postponed. All these problems mount up to a fixture back-log.
“We try to start evening fixtures as soon as the clocks have changed and there is enough light but we then hit the problem with travelling distances.
“When you consider we have teams from Padiham, Clitheroe, Horton, Grassington, Keighley and Skipton and at this stage we are left with all the earlier postponed games, some distances are almost impossible for a night game.
“We are not able to select games but have to try and work round the games outstanding. An additional problem is that the District Cup competitions are in their final stages and usually clubs with the back log of league fixtures are involved “It becomes even more of a problem if the home team is one of our cricket-sharing clubs and cannot play on Saturdays.
“It is not as easy as Mr Jones seems to imply. His is one of the clubs who cannot play at home on Saturdays when cricket is taking place.”
Turning to the issue of Cowling’s two walkovers which left them level on points with champions Skipton LMS but unable to make up the goal difference, Aldersley added: “Mr Jones said he was disappointed not to have had the chance to become champions.
“If his team had managed to get one point out of the four games they lost out of 18 they would have made it.
“We also had the case in Division Three, which was won by Earby Town by one point from AFC Colne, where the Earby total included three points awarded because Cowling Reserves did not field a team for the game at Earby on May 5.”