Move the grassroots game to summer
Grassroot football is the source of Britain's footballing obsession. Without the ability for anyone, regardless age, ability, or location, to pick up the ball, (well, you can't pick up the ball, but you know what I mean), join a local team, and immerse themselves for 90 minutes of exhilarating action, our footballing identity would be scant.
Across the Home Nations there exist ample opportunities to join football clubs. There are often many divisions within just one county, demonstrating the game's wide-reaching popularity. In Gwent, my home county in Wales, senior football has three tiers, complete with promotion and relegation.
Usually one club will have two or three teams under its jurisdiction, playing in different divisions. There will be a junior set-up, as well, with teams for each age group from 7-16. Some clubs have 'youth' sides for players in the 17-19 year bracket.
If the senior game is important, the junior game is paramount. It is where the next generation's footballers originate. Granted the very best are snapped up by academies, but most will develop their skill at junior level from seven to 11, which is when the professional clubs begin to scout for the brightest talents.
Not only is access to organised football intrinsic to the UK's reputation as the game's originator, it is also essential in shaping the national character, sustaining morale, and providing a creative outlet for youngsters.
This may appear too philosophical but imagine a world without the chance to play football. Thousands more children would be on the streets. Some would get involved in criminality. Others would become even further entangled in the corrosive nature of video games and social media. Maybe that's a little too 'get off my lawn' for some, but the essence is that sustaining grassroots football in the UK is vital.
Yet the FA, despite boasting a deep compassion for this facet of football, does very little. The funding provided for councils is meager in comparison with millions spent elsewhere, including on board member's salaries.
This reticence to inject sufficient funding into the grassroots level means, among other problems, there is a lack of safe pitches on which to play. many tend to be unplayable mud-swamps or pot-holed quagmires that reduce highly anticipated fun to a trite, tedious affair.
Why don't clubs simply pay for a 4G pitch? Do you have the money? Clubs often rely on members' generosity just to get by. This is nothing new, but as the economy continues to pinch, less are willing to part with money.
One possible solution remains. Instead of leaving sides to the mercy of beaten pitches, soaked grounds, and winter's capricious nature, seasons should be brought forward into the summer. Competition should seek to miss the winter period. Start in March, continue until October. Far fewer games would be called off.
Traditionalists may feel queasy about subverting the natural order (#MeToo) but unless the FA suddenly decides to direct more money to local clubs, this appears to be the most cogent solution.
Children on holiday during the summer months presents a problem. Other countries work it out, however. In the US, children play several sports throughout the year. Those residing in colder climes head indoors in winter for hockey or basketball. From spring to fall, baseball, soccer and American football share time. American kids go on holiday as well, yet the games go on. The UK need only find the will to do what's best.