SPL to kick off 2011/12 season earlier
Tue 1st Mar 2011 | Football Governance
The Scottish Premier League (SPL) Board announced yesterday that the 2011/12 Clydesdale Bank Premier League Season will start on Saturday 23 July 2011.
The decision to begin the season at an earlier date is said to be an important part of the SPL’s strategic plan for Scottish football and should mean that SPL clubs involved in European qualifiers in July enter those games better prepared.
Commenting on the decision, SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster wrote in his blog; “It will help teams in European competition and is therefore good for the UEFA coefficient.
“It will reduce fixture congestion and the number of unpopular winter mid-week games later in the season. It will boost clubs' incomes and increase the value of SPL games to broadcasters.
Over the past 13 years of SPL history, the season start date has been set anywhere between 28 July and 15 August. On five occasions the SPL season has started in July, on four occasions in the first week of August and, on four occasions also, the second week of August.
Doncaster hopes that the earlier start to the season help to boost attendances which have be in decline over recent years; “There is no doubt that it is simply a much more pleasant experience going to a game in the warm summer sun on a July Saturday than having to brave the snow and ice on a mid-week February evening – a move that can surely only boost attendances at games.”
He also believes that starting ahead of the English Premier League help to boost TV interest in the SPL. “By kicking off and concluding our season at the same time as the English, we are diluting the appeal of our games to broadcasters,” Doncaster continued.
“In contrast, by starting our season ahead of the Premier League, at a time when there is a real shortage of football on TV, we allow our broadcast partners to properly showcase SPL football to the whole of the UK and the rest of the World.
However, the SPL Board has decided on a protocol that allows clubs to participate in summer tournaments, whilst also ensuring that all clubs and fans reap the benefits of an earlier start date for the season.
SPL clubs can request that one fixture early in the season be postponed to take part in such tournaments and has given permission for Celtic to participate in the Dublin Super Cup over the weekend of 30 and 31 July.
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