In Scotland it feels as though the season as only just ended. The players, club officials and staff are all off on their well earned holidays. The fans are enjoying/cursing (delete as appropriate) the close season. And yet for Scottish fans the 2017/18 season is hurtling towards them at breakneck speed.
On Monday 19 June, fans of Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Rangers will find out who they’ll be facing in the Europa League.
Club’s in Scotland already know their first round groups for the Betfred Cup which will kick off on the weekend of 15 July. However, St Johnstone and Rangers will find out on Monday who they will face on 29 June and 6 July in the first qualifying round.
With that the teams are already back in training. St Johnstone have been holding a training camp at Largs and are heading to St Andrews soon after.
Speaking to the Perthshire Advertiser, Saint’s manager Tommy Wright said he was looking forward to learning of his continental opponents.
“I’m looking forward to the draw and let’s hope it’s kind to us in terms of distances we’re going to have to travel.
“The planning will start when we know who we play and we will have to try and get as much information on them as possible.
“We’ll also need to make sure the travel arrangements are right for the players. There is a lot of planning to do in a short space of time.
“When I was at home I bumped into a few people at my old club Ballymena, who have done extremely well.
“I think like us they are hoping to not be travelling too far a distance. It might be that we end up getting an Irish or Welsh club.
“We’ll deal with whoever we get but ideally for the club and supporters, it would be good to get a country which is easily accessible.”
And Wright’s men could indeed face his old club Ballymena. But no matter who they face it will be with a lot of planning in a very short space of time, as Wright pointed out.
For some clubs in Scotland the new season’s strip is yet to be unveiled, season tickets have only recently gone on sale and some are only just tying up their sponsors for the forthcoming season.
Now more than ever, club’s are under increasing pressure in Scotland due to the ever decreasing length of the close season.
The free time available to secure revenues and build squads in time for the return of pre-season training is ever more squeezed.
The earlier start to the football season in Scotland has been brought about precisely because of the ever earlier entry to continental competition as the nation’s co-efficient has slipped lower. A logical approach in and of itself.
However, the close of the season has yet to be recalibrated in order to allow managers and clubs the vital off season time to agree new sponsors, bring in season ticket money and rebuild squads.
Perhaps it is now time that the seasons end is brought forward to compensate?
If Scottish football is to compete and progress beyond the continental level in which it finds itself then the accommodations have to be made. The earlier start is a first step.
Add to that an earlier end to the season and we would surely be giving managers and clubs some vital added time to rebuild and come back prepared and fighting fit.