Premier League managers constantly talk about the need for squad rotation and resting players, but while they typically have the resources to cope with a ‘fixture pile-up’, spare a thought for those lower down the football pyramid.
Guernsey FC, who we’d forgive for slipping below most fans’ radars playing as they do in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, are facing the prospect of playing 17 games in April. The islanders face three weekends where they will play consecutively on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Guernsey have only played 19 league games so far this season, due to a combination of a run to the semi-final of the FA Vase and a spate of cancelled fixtures due to poor weather over the winter. Should they beat Spennymoor Town in their two-legged semi-final, they face the prospect of four games in four days over the first weekend in May.
They have nine games in hand over league leaders Egham Town, and sit 24 points off top spot.
Guernsey aren’t the only non-league side to be facing fixture problems – Southern League Division One South & West side Bridgwater Town suffered their 29th postponement of the season on Monday.
20 of Town’s games have fallen foul of the weather so far this term, while a further nine have been rescheduled due to clashes with cup fixtures. This has left the club having to play 18 matches by 27th April.
While it may be easy to laugh at the absurdity of it all, both clubs, and many others in similar situations, face real cash-flow issues as a result of cancelled fixtures. Many clubs live hand-to-mouth and rely on revenues at the turnstiles to pay the bills. Sponsorship revenue, such as it is, can’t always cover the bills that still need to be paid, and there’s a real danger to the wellbeing of the players playing so many games in such a short period of time.
So the next time you hear a top flight manager complaining about tired players, remember they have it easy.