English football has a 'Close Season' when virtually no football can be played. Perhaps it ought to be 'Closed Season'.
The current wording of the relevant FA Rule (B8(b)) is as follows:-
"The 'Close Season' shall be defined as the period between 1 June and 30 June inclusive each calendar year, save where The Association makes an order to the contrary”.
Matches which are allowed, under clause (c), include certain small-sided matches, matches between services teams whilst in camp, matches involving boys' brigades and scouts, matches for national representative teams and matches in The FA Women’s Super League.
So most of us have go without our footy fix for a whole month. But hold on to your hat...it used to be FOUR months.
The FA Council decreed in 1891 that:-
"No club or player shall take part in a football contest (other than practice matches between teams of the same club) from 1 May to 31 August".
The phrase 'Close Season' hadn't yet been coined, but the importance of the resolution was clear. The ruling was more acutely defined at the AGM in 1902 when it was laid down that:-
"Football matches are prohibited during the Close Season which commences on 1 May and ends on 31 August in each year. During that period practice matches may be played between teams of the same club, and professionals who have not been engaged for the following season may be given a trial by any club. Gate money must not be taken at practice matches in the Close Season. Army teams may play competitions in the Close Season whilst in camp, and registered players may take part therein. The competitions shall be strictly confined to the regiments concerned, and gate money must not be taken,"
Since then the Rule has undergone a number of adjustments, but the basic outlook has remained the same.
Why was a 'Close Season' introduced in the first place? It was "in deference to summer sports", according to the Official FA History.
The 'Close Season' is finally over, but why do we have one in the first place?