Managers say total revamp is needed for MSFL
Matt Sheldon helped Brixton Old Boys claim a 3-0 win over L’Equipe
The Maccabi League is in need of a serious restructure, say some of its top managers who believe a complete overhaul is vital to make it more competitive and credible.
They have called for change after the Premier Division was cut to eight teams for the second consecutive season. This means that relegation from the top-flight appears unlikely and some teams are only four matches away from completing their league season.
South Mancs and Montana Boca United withdrew from the league before the turn of the year. London Maccabi Lions B folded a fortnight ago. Now managers are calling for the league management committee to take action.
Mitch Young, manager of Division One title hopefuls FC Team A, said: "With the top division down to eight teams again, it's clear that something has to change."
Young believes that the 50-team, five-division league should reduce the number of divisions.
"We should get the Premier Division to a minimum of 12. If it means taking the league to only four divisions so be it. I am sure everyone wants more games in tighter contested leagues but to have to compete in 14 games in one season to win a title is ridiculous.
"Lions' decision to pull out was very disappointing. I respect and admire Lions as a club, but with their kind of set-up it is really surprising that they could allow this to happen."
Ryan Glynne, joint-manager of North West Neasden B, said: "It's a joke, and it's happening too often. The pool of players at Lions is big so I just can't see why they couldn't last the season. To pull out in the new year is wrong and unfair to the rest of the sides in the league."
Redbridge Jewish Care C manager Richard Bronzite admits that the Lions are not the only multi-team club struggling for numbers. He said: "I know what they are going through. This season has been hard for us; players don't seem to care as much as they did.
"There needs to be a fresh impetus of youngsters joining the league, which is what I am trying to do at RJC. I also think the league should limit the ruling to one team per club if more then one team per division."
Faithfold A assistant-manager Daryl Phillips thinks that relegation is a must in every division. "Teams at the bottom of the league now have nothing to play for. I still think bottom two should drop down."
Looking at the bigger picture, Phillips says that some clubs try to grow too quickly. "Faithfold have three teams. Some weeks we struggle, and some weeks we have too many players. That's amateur football for you."
Phillips has been one of the top players in the league for the past two decades. He says that changes should be kept to a minimum. "I think the MSFL management committee runs the league very well. It is for them to decide.
"There are not many leagues with five divisions and over three cup competitions so people need to stop moaning about how the league is run. It is still a great league."
However, one man believes that the Lions should be taken to task over their decision which rocked the league. Jamie Cole, the manager of defending league champions North West Neasden A. He said: "To be brutally honest, I think Lions' decision to pull out their B team was a disgrace. It is a club which has monopolised Jewish football in relation to the number of players that it has on its books and it professes to being the biggest club in Jewish football.
"I feel that the club has lost its direction due to the volume of players. It has a responsibility to Jewish football. Other clubs have folded as a result of players leaving to play for Lions, a consequence of which is that Jewish football is in a poorer state than in the past. I know for a fact that the Lions have encouraged their players to stop playing in the MSFL the day after a match."
Cole believes that this has had an impact on Jewish football as a whole. "Another issue that has resulted in the dilution of quality of the MSFL is that Maccabi has changed the qualifying criteria for the European Games. Over the years, players had to have played 75 per cent over two years for an MSFL side whereas now players qualify from Lions' Saturday side.
"Therefore, the squad that has been picked for the Euros which is akin to a Maccabiah side which was historically made up of Wingate & Finchley players.
"In the past, MSFL players were given the opportunity to play in a fantastic tournament however, now the MSFL players will not have that chance. Furthermore, the best Jewish players played in the MSFL so as to qualify for the Euros but now they don't have to, again affecting the quality of the MSFL."