Foot­ball kick-off times ‘crazy’

Dons boss hits out at matches clash­ing with am­a­teur games –

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RE­BECCA BUCHAN

Aberdeen FC boss Derek McInnes has said he thinks it is “crazy” more hasn’t been done to en­sure am­a­teur foot­ball matches don’t clash with the Dons’ kick­off times.

The AFC man­ager said he knows many peo­ple who are heav­ily in­volved in the am­a­teur leagues who have not been able to se­cure enough points for cup fi­nal tick­ets be­cause they spend their week­ends play­ing.

And he said he be­lieves more could be done to “get more peo­ple through the door” and still al­low them to play.

He was talk­ing at Aberdeen City and Grampian Cham­ber of Com­merce (AGCC) this week to more than 150 busi­ness lead­ers.

At the end of his pre­sen­ta­tion McInnes was ad­dressed by an au­di­ence mem­ber who said he had played am­a­teur foot­ball all his life.

He said that he was also an Aberdeen sup­porter but that he was rarely able to at­tend matches as he was fre­quently play­ing on a Satur­day af­ter­noon.

He be­lieved that to be partly down to a lack of avail­able pitches that would al­low matches to be held in the morn­ing.

McInnes was asked if he thought it was a prob­lem and he replied: “It does sound crazy that we are not giv­ing our­selves the best chance to get more through the door.

“I got a call from a friend of a friend want­ing tick­ets. He is im­mersed in foot­ball and yet he can’t get tick­ets for the cup fi­nal be­cause he hasn’t at­tended enough matches be­cause he’s too busy coach­ing.

“It is some­thing the club, coun­cil and youth foot­ball in Aberdeen can try to make bet­ter. Def­i­nitely.”

Brian Christie, sec­re­tary of Aberdeen­shire Am­a­teur Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, said he be­lieved there was a short­age of pitches across the city. How­ever, he said the time of their matches was largely down to tra­di­tion and would be un­likely to change.

He said: “There is cur­rently not enough pitches but that’s not the main rea­son the games are played on a Satur­day af­ter­noon. It has al­ways been like that for con­ve­nience mainly. Many peo­ple still work on a Satur­day morn­ing and they like to spend their Sun­days with their fam­i­lies so I can’t see them be­ing able to do much to change that.”

A spokes­woman for Sport Aberdeen said: “Work has re­cently been un­der­taken look­ing into sports pitch pro­vi­sion to de­ter­mine both quan­tity and qual­ity of pitches, with ini­tial find­ings not in­dica­tive of a lack of pitches. We are also aware that the qual­ity of pro­vi­sion in some cases could be im­proved and this is some­thing we will be work­ing to­wards col­lec­tively with part­ners.”

Would we rather peo­ple spent their Satur­day af­ter­noons watch­ing foot­ball, or play­ing it?

A full house roar­ing on teams from the ter­races no doubt brings wider eco­nomic and so­cial gains to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Busi­nesses near city-cen­tre sta­di­ums en­joy a match-day boom and a cup run helps fos­ter a spirit of sol­i­dar­ity.

They pale, though, next to the ben­e­fits to be reaped from hav­ing an ac­tive pop­u­la­tion.

A re­cent study of the im­pact of recre­ational foot­ball put the im­pact at nearly £100 mil­lion to Aberdeen­shire alone.

That in­cludes 1,300 jobs, £12m worth of vol­un­teer­ing and a £4.5m sav­ing for the NHS just from one sport.

Forced to choose, we would there­fore plump for peo­ple putting on their boots over don­ning their scarves.

Any ac­tion by Aberdeen FC to fur­ther boost their grass­roots pro­gramme – al­low­ing peo­ple to both play and watch and boost­ing gate re­ceipts at the same time – would, how­ever, be very wel­come.

PRE­SEN­TA­TION: Aberdeen man­ager Derek McInnes spoke at Aberdeen City and Grampian Cham­ber of Com­merce

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