Frustrated AFC Sudbury boss calls for season to be extended

Growing increasingly frustrated: AFC Sudbury boss David Batch

Growing increasingly frustrated: AFC Sudbury boss David Batch - Credit: James Ager

AFC Sudbury boss David Batch believes the season should be extended in order to help non-league clubs facing a fixture backlog following a spate of postponements.

From Step Seven to Step Three, countless clubs have held pitch inspections week-after-week only for the sodden surfaces – full of puddles and mud – to be deemed not fit for purpose as the wet weather shows no signs of abating.

Sudbury are due for one of these pitch inspections this morning as they hope to host Witham Town tomorrow afternoon.

On paper, this should be a cracking game; Sudbury losing just one Ryman North league game since the end of August and Witham sitting in fourth position, still fighting for automatic promotion.

But with more wet weather imminent, Batch has admitted that the chances of tomorrow’s game going ahead are ‘slight’ at best.

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“In my opinion, the League really need to think about extending the season,” declared Batch.

“With all the cancellations and rearranged games, the backlog of fixtures everyone has to play before the ‘league deadline’ is just far too much.”

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Rules state that the season must finish by the set date of April 26, meaning many clubs – including Sudbury – will have to cram in half a season’s worth of fixtures into a period of just under three months.

“Something needs to be done,” added Batch.

“I think clubs should come together and call an AGM because it’s getting pretty out of hand.

“The problem is that the League aren’t budging and that’s causing problematic implications for all of us.

“Maybe if there were a few of us who raised the same concerns something might happen and the league might run for an extra fortnight or something.”

Like a number of other clubs in the area, Sudbury have offered to reverse a couple of fixture (ie fulfil the game at the opposition’s ground instead) when their original tie has been called off, only for league officials to turn their wishes down.

“We’ve tried to do that two or three times only to see it get turned down,” admitted Batch.

“A solution can’t seem to be found and we’ll be getting into three-games-a-week situations from now on in.”

As well as league duties, Batch’s side still have cup ambitions. The Suffolk side are in the semi-finals of the Robert Dyas League Cup, although they are yet to discover their opponents and date of the game because things are so far behind schedule.

And although Batch admits that he’s pleased to be at this stage of a competition, it means more games to fit in to an already jam-packed schedule.

“It’s great to be where we are but it does mean even more games for us,” said Batch. “In the future, maybe we should look at the final being in pre-season – effectively like the Community Shield.”

Whether tomorrow’s game goes ahead or not, Batch’s men are in for what promises to be a busy February, with trips to Erith & Belvedere and Waltham Forest adding to three more proposed home fixtures.

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