Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has said Scottish football fixtures perhaps need a revamp along the lines of the League of Ireland's structure.
It was a good day for Brendan Rodgers today as his Celtic team won the Scottish League Cup by beating Aberdeen 3-0. It's Rodgers' first trophy with Celtic and it came partly because of a screamer from Tom Rogic in the first half.
So it was in good spirits that Rodgers spoke to the press following the game and he came out with some interesting comments regarding the structuring of the Scottish football season.
It's always a feature of the early season for English and Scottish teams that they have to play Champions League qualifiers while they are basically still getting warmed up after the summer break. The Bhoys had a hairy enough qualifying campaign as they squeezed past Kazakh club FC Astana (3-2 on aggregate) before surviving a nervous second half to beat Hapoel Beer Sheva 5-4 over two legs in the next round.
Another feature of the British leagues is the condensed 'Christmas period' which always contrasts with the Bundesliga, where teams have basically a month off, and the French, Spanish and Italian leagues which give players breaks of varying lengths.
And Rodgers, referring to his side's Champions League qualifying campaign, thinks a change could be needed - perhaps one that brings the Scottish league closer to how the League of Ireland season runs.
I would say that there is an argument to say a season which starts in February to November would actually work up here (Scotland) and there would be benefits for clubs. There would be financial benefits and benefits for coaching in the warmer months.
Then when you are midway through your season you get the Champions League qualifiers. Astana had played 22 games by the time we faced them – and that’s remarkable because we had only played once.
He said that given how much of a "massive prize" the Champions League is, "to not be given the chance to achieve it puts you on the back foot."
And interestingly Rodgers said the cold weather can actually affect the coaching of younger players and stunt their development.
It’s getting colder and in terms of coaching it’s tough. We’re blessed in terms of what we have here compared to other teams, but if you take a developing kid for example, he’s off during the best months of the year.
The season has finished and the posts get taken down and the grass doesn’t get cut. Now – in season – it’s just about keeping kids warm. It was minus eight here this morning.
However there is always the risk of rustiness in Europe if the domestic season finishes before a club has completed all of their games on the bigger stage. Dundalk, for example, were not the same team against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday as they were when they had a busier fixture list. Perhaps their lack of recent league activity had something to do with it.