Motherwell's Burrows calls for summer football feasibility study

Ryan Bowman celebrates
Ryan Bowman scored as Motherwell beat Stirling Albion in Saturday's pre-season friendly

Motherwell director Alan Burrows has called for a feasibility study into summer football as a calendar switch got the backing of two top managers.

Aberdeen's Derek McInnes and St Johnstone's Tommy Wright both told BBC Scotland it could help their sides prepare for European competition.

Burrows admitted that there did not appear to be great enthusiasm from other club boardrooms.

But he said: "Let's have a feasibility study and see if we can do this."

The summer football debate was reignited by Thursday's Europa League defeat by St Johnstone at home to Lithuanians Trakai as Rangers laboured to a single-goal win over Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg at Ibrox.

"I personally believe Scottish football needs a change of that magnitude to jolt it into action," Burrows told BBC Scotland's Sportsound.

Jason Holt playing for Rangers against Progres Niederkorn
Rangers played their first game of the new season 39 days after ending their 2016-17 campaign

"We've tried different sizes of leagues, we've tried different teams within it, we've tried different concepts, if you think of the split, but I would personally move to a March-November calendar."

Burrows highlighted that there was "an ideal opportunity" ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where the finals will switch to the winter.

"There is a new television deal due to be negotiated from 2020 onwards and I can't see why it wouldn't be attractive to a broadcaster to have competitive summer football from mid-May to August when there is precious little football around about that time."

Uefa countries that play a summer season
BelarusGeorgiaLatvia
EstoniaIcelandLithuania
Faroe IslandsRepublic of IrelandNorway
FinlandKazakhstanSweden

Burrows said the issue had not been raised for some time within the Scottish Professional Football League, where only himself and Alloa Athletic officials appeared especially keen.

However, he thought that supporters would back the idea.

"I don't think summer football will be viewed as a silver bullet," Burrows said when pondering whether it would improve playing standards. "I think it has got to form part of a wider view."

After his side's defeat on Thursday, Wright suggested that his team were technically inferior to their opponents - and would have been whoever they had been drawn against.

"Summer football is one reason," he suggested after Saturday's 3-0 friendly defeat by Aberdeen. "How they are being coached when they come into the professional game, how they are being coached as kids is probably the bigger issue and is possibly the reason why there have been the failures in Europe in recent years.

Tommy Wright and Derek McInnes
Wright and McInnes have regularly been in Europe with their sides in recent seasons

"We all work very hard, but a 28-year-old footballer - his touch won't get better. If he doesn't see the pass at 28, no manager in the world is going to make him see that pass.

"At early ages, we need to be getting footballers who are more comfortable on the ball.

"Does that go down to the number of hours that we're spending? Is it down to coaching? Is it down to us playing winter football even at school age as well?

"I don't think turning to summer football will change everything. Summer football may or may not help. It may be worth trying."

McInnes, whose side enter the Europa League in the next round, was even more enthusiastic about summer football.

"While you always feel against teams of certain countries that they always produce more technical players than ourselves, I'm not so sure that could be said right across the board, whoever we come up against," he said.

"There's no doubt we're at a huge disadvantage when it comes to playing against teams who are well into their season and up and running.

"I'm all for trying to make our game as attractive as possible and getting more people in to watch and, if summer football allows us to do that, I think certainly for clubs like ourselves and St Johnstone and teams playing regularly in Europe it would be a real added bonus.

"Because it is, as much as anything, a huge factor trying to be game-ready as quickly as possible and it is tough."

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