HENPM

The current Peter Morrison holders, Hendon A

Maccabi league football managers have said they could withdraw from this coming season’s Peter Morrison Trophy after changes in the competition’s format mean they now face cross-country trips to matches.

Managers have described the changes, which were announced by the National Maccabi Football Committee (NFC) at Monday’s AGM as ‘stupid’ and ‘ill-advised’, with northern and southern sides now able to face each other from the first round, instead of just the latter stages. Another change will see byes given to 14 teams – the 10 southern Premier Division sides and four northern ones. While the changes were made “to ensure more teams who are not at the ‘top of the tree’ have a chance of progressing to the latter stages of the competition,” football bosses and chairmen from the MGBSFL aren’t happy.

Temple Fortune’s Nigel Kyte said: “I think it’s an ill-advised decision and we’ll just have to wait and see how many withdrawals there will be on the basis of a ‘bad’ away draw up north in the winter months. “We won’t be taking part in the competition, but even if we were still in Division One, I would question whether or not the competition still has appeal now that the draw has been opened up nationally to all teams.

Faithfold A player-manager Zuriel Solomon said: “We’ll consider as a club whether we pull out of the competition. We don’t need the hassle of travelling up north, potentially making three trips or more in the season.”

Neasden manager Stirling Kaye called it a “totally stupid change”, saying: “many of our players have other commitments and would find it very difficult to get away all day to play a game of football. We would be reluctant to pull out, but it would be very difficult for us to take a strong enough team to do us justice, if that was the case we may have to withdraw.”

FC Team B player-manager Mitch Young questioned the reasons behind the changes. He said: “The big teams can face each other early and get knocked out. I found nothing wrong with the old format – having to schlep up to Leeds for a first round tie in the winter does not excite me.”

Sharing his views was L’Equipe’s Daniel Cordell, who said: “It doesn’t really favour the “lesser teams” as they’ll knock each other out in round one, only for the premier teams to come in and progress. I get the idea but I think it’s an odd way of doing it.”

League officials have defended the changes. Chairman David Wolff said: “It’s a fabulous idea. People are entitled to their opinion but the tournament needed some sparkle, it needed to be reinvented and I think this gives it that.” His sentiments were echoed by Laurence Thorne, chairman of the National Football Committee. He said: “We wanted to generate more interest in the competition and believe this will do it. Opening up the possibility of north and south sides facing each other from the first round will create more excitement and open the tournament up, meaning less chance of seeing the same big teams in the latter stages.”

David Garbacz, manager of last season’s treble winners Hendon A isn’t concerned with the changes. He said: “They don’t bother me. We always dread the almost inevitable game up north and if we play it earlier rather than later, I can’t see what difference it makes. If smaller teams think they’ll have a better chance this way then great but as with most things the cream will rise to the top eventually.”

Oakwood A player-manager Ric Blank shared Garbacz’s sentiments, saying: “It doesn’t massively bother me to be honest. I love the big games against the northern sides and if we get one in December then great. Some of these guys moaning about their trips to Manchester in the winter – let me tell you it’s no better going in the spring. It’s grim up north. Deary me though – you’d think they were travelling to the other side of Mordor or something.

“There are some very good sides up north – maybe some teams just don’t want to play them. Either way it doesn’t affect us. We’ll take whoever we get and give them a good game. And if we get a northern side then I’m sure mum won’t mind sticking the kettle on.”