Simon Cox knows a thing or two about playing in winter.
The Western Sydney Wanderers forward made 351 appearances across several clubs in the UK – including 37 in the Premier League with West Brom – playing in the heart of cruel and icy Northern European winters; ones where gloves and undershirts are not just worn as fashion statements.
While the cool conditions in Gosford that welcomed the Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners last Monday are incomparable to that of the UK, it was a temperature much preferred by Cox and one he believes the league will thrive in.
”Over here in the heat you can tell the game slows down and the intensity is not there because of the heat and the humidity,’’ Cox told FNR.
”Playing now in what is called winter in 18 degrees the intensity can go up, boys can recover quicker because you’re not burning as much energy for every sprint or every short distance run you have to do.
”When you walk out onto the pitch, even though it was rainy and windy, it’s a lot better than having 40-degree heat and your face being red afterwards. Right now, you’ll probably get a better standard of football once everyone is back up and running.’’
The summer-winter debate re-entered Australian football discourse after extreme heat and poor air quality saw Y-League and W-League matches rescheduled as well as a new air pollution policy implemented by FFA.
Adelaide United’s match against the Newcastle Jets went ahead in 38 degrees in front of just over 6000 spectators last December, with FFA allegedly rejecting Adelaide’s request to delay kick-off by a few hours.
”When you’re playing in that heat and it’s televised it’s not great viewing because the intensity is not great and people watching at home are thinking ‘why isn’t this game any good? Why aren’t players playing as well?’” Adelaide forward George Blackwood told FNR after the game.
Despite the strong cases for a permanent switch to winter – being aligning with other Asian Football members as well as Australia’s grassroots competitions – going up against the other codes appeared to be a risk previous FFA boards were not willing to take.
Football fans advocating for a winter A-League will have their wish somewhat granted with the 2020/21 competition running from December to July but this remains a temporary response to the league’s temporary suspension due to the pandemic.
While the current circumstances do not accurately depict whether a winter-switch would work from an attendance perspective, a perceived increase in quality on the field may just be what pushes this argument over the edge.
Featured Image – Getty Images