What are we going to do with ourselves?
This weekend’s Championship programme is already decimated. Only six games are left standing as I write, and Palace’s home match against Bristol City tomorrow is surely set to follow suit. The Eagles didn’t invest in under soil heating during their 90s heyday, and are relying on covers and heaters to beat the freeze, recollecting Walsall’s Bescot Stadium braziers.
It all seems a little provincial, but bearing in mind that it costs in the region of £300,000 to install a heating system and that this doesn’t even guarantee immunity from the cold, it’s understandable that clubs have other priorities. That footballing sage Stan Collymore thinks it’s high time undersoil heating is introduced as mandatory at all 92 clubs in the Premier and Football League and has, I think genuinely, suggested that the FA fund the upgrade. Like that would ever happen. In the top flight, only Fulham and Portsmouth have yet to install systems at Fratton Park and the Cottage respectively, which is ridiculous when considering how they’ve spunked millions on artisans such as Steve Marlet and Younes Kaboul.
As far as I know, nine of our number are without hot pipes: Blackpool, Bristol City, Crystal Palace, Doncaster, Ipswich, Peterborough, Preston, Plymouth and Scunthorpe, and each rely on covers, local voulnteers, the sun and (most of all) luck. Seeing as five clubs that do possess the facility have had to call games off ahead of tomorrow, I’d imagine that this would remain the case for the forseeable future. Come the summer months fans will rant if their cravings for new signings are not satisfied and the plumbers are called in instead.