Airbus UK Broughton: Boss Craig Harrison willing to consider summer switch

AIRBUS boss Craig Harrison believes it is time to consider making Welsh Premier League football a summer sport to avoid the big-freeze fixture chaos.

League secretary John Deakin has long been an advocate of summer football and his case has been strengthened by two successive bad winters that have played havoc with fixtures.

And with sub-zero winters becoming a regular occurrence and the league’s mid-season split now likely to be delayed by several weeks while postponed fixtures are rearranged, former Middlesbrough man Harrison says he would also be open to suggestions about a re-structure of the footballing calendar.

“I’ve heard people blaming the Welsh FA about the fixture pile-up, but the weather is the weather,” he said.

“If anything they’ve shown foresight to leave a two-week gap to get the fixtures in.

“I have one or two ideas of my own about how to improve the calendar.

“Firstly I don’t think that summer football would be the worst thing in the world as long as every team in the league had a sprinkler system to make the pitches soft enough.

“Either that or start the season a month early and finish a month later, with a break in December and January.”

Despite the delays, Harrison insists that an historic sixth-place Super 12 finish is not beyond his side – provided they avoid another long winless run of games.

The Wingmakers, who came agonisingly close to taking the scalp of Welsh Premier giants Bangor City with a valiant performance at The Airfield last time out, had previously gone 14 games without a win in all competitions.

But after a 4-0 demolition of Haverfordwest County prior to the visit of Bangor, the Flintshire side appeared to have finally turned the corner before the cold snap put their improved run of form and a Boxing Day derby visit of Bala on ice.

Now as Harrison’s men look to hold on to sixth spot going into the new year in order to get into the top-half of the Welsh Premier split and avoid a relegation scrap, the Chronicle found the manager in reflective mood.

“We’ve had an extended break which is a pity as we’ve had a few good results lately,” said Harrison.

“The players were all on a fantastic high after the Bangor game and so we wanted to keep the momentum going – but we will get on with it.

“We were gutted to concede late on after such a fantastic performance but before the game we would have been happy with a point.

“The performance was the most important thing as we’ve been beaten by five the last few times we’ve played them.

“Now the players know that if they can give Bangor a game they can take on anyone in this league.”

He added: “But consistency is the key at any level of football – and perspective.

“At the start of the season we would have took being sixth at Christmas.

“We started brilliantly, then had a poor spell and then picked points up again.

“So our new year’s resolution is to not go on another long run without a win and to aim to finish in sixth place.

“For a club of our stature, history and finances to finish in the top half of the league would be punching above our weight and we’d be delighted be there when the split comes around.”

While the Airbus players received permission from their manager to relax and enjoy a beer or two and a slice of cake over Christmas, Harrison believes that a series of stringent indoor fitness tests taken prior to the opening of the festivities will enable them to hit the ground running again when they visit Bala on Sunday, January 2 (2.30pm).