In the second part of our special report on the future of Jewish football, Maccabi football managers reveal the changes they’d like introduced including sides from the same club being barred from the same division, the urgent need for better pitches and younger referees and the introduction of non-Jewish players.
Maccabi League football managers have discussed, deliberated and debated a wide range of topics as they candidly spoke about changes they’d like brought into Jewish football.
One key issue which drew strong opinion was the rule allowing two teams from one club to play in the same division. Neasden manager Stirling Kay said: “At no stage should it be allowed. It leads to a big advantage to those teams and can be used in the second half of the season to revamp the team that’s looking to win a trophy or trying to avoid relegation. All teams should be on a level par throughout the season.“
AC Mill Hill’s Daniel Beresford said: “I would like to see a rule set in stone to stop clubs that have more than one team using the loophole to enhance their lower team.” Dynamo Hendon manager Jeremy Brown believes it’s ‘a difficult subject’ and is more “about the teams that are willing to cheat and misuse the rule.”
Players dropping down from an ‘A’ side to a ‘B’ side is also a bone of contention. Oakwood A’s Ric Blank said: “Only dropping one player down to the B’s is too stringent a rule. I understand the principle but we want to run a proper club where players are rewarded for good performances and run the risk of demotion if someone takes their place. We have so often not been able to do that because of the rule, it needs changing.” Temple Fortune’s Jonathan Cohen said: “I think players from the same club should only be allowed to play for their A/B/C team if they are deemed surplus to requirements for that weekend’s match, but not if their respective team doesn’t have a fixture.” Hendon A’s David Garbacz said: “I think players should only be allowed to move between sides up to the halfway point, in other words once a team has played half their league games they shouldn’t be allowed to take in players.”
Pitches and facilities also came under discussion, with Oakwood B’s Jason Stein saying: “There needs to be a much better approach. Clubs who play on grass must be told that it’s not acceptable to use a grass pitch throughout December and January, if they fail to supply a 3G pitch then they should face a fine. Clubs who are constantly postponing games need to be given an incentive to stop. It’s not fair that sides who choose to play on grass get to play the vast majority of their games during the sunshine months when sides with 3G pitches play the vast majority in tougher winter conditions. It’s open to all sorts of manipulation and needs to change otherwise the league risks becoming a joke.”
With regards to facilities, Brown says: “I’d like to see some kind of push to get better facilities, whether this means working with the councils or private developers to build new pitches.” Blank says: “The league should offer greater help and guidance on facilities and pitches. It’s so difficult finding a pitch in London, facilities that are available at places like Rowley Lane and the Hive should be made open to all clubs.”
Managers also believe there should be a change in the administration of fines – and in some instances stopped, with Stein saying: “I’d like fines for the vast majority of yellow cards to be discarded.” Cohen said: “I really don’t see what is to be gained from fining clubs for not submitting their team sheets on time, a gentle reminder would be sufficient.”
While the majority of the managers said the standard of refereeing was ‘satisfactory’, Faithfold B’s Shooman believes officials should be made “accountable for their mistakes”. Brown said: “I’d like to see better and younger referees. We only have a handful of good ones available to us which is frustrating because the better ones tend to get games in the Premier Division, meaning the lower leagues suffer from really bad decisions.”
A controversial topic is whether non-Jews should be allowed to play in the league. Garbacz said: “Maybe it’s time to welcome say a maximum of two non-Jewish players per club and wherever possible I would like to see linesman allocated to the bigger games.”
In agreement is Redbridge A’s Sam Rosenthal, who said: “A quota of non-Jewish players should be allowed without doubt. Three would be a good number. It will have zero impact on the Jewish community aspect of the league in my opinion. If anything it will give the league a wider credibility it deserves. Numbers are dwindling and this is a clear way to help. It’s not something we should be scared of.”
Other suggestions put forward included Beresford saying: “I’d like to see a loan system put in place where like masters football, a guest is allowed to play if a player has no game one week, he should be able to play for another team but players can’t go down only up.” Shooman thinks a winter break would “keep more interest throughout the season right till the end, as well as helping to try and maintain pitches”, while Stein would also like to see “a more of a common sense approach taken to player registration”.