Southern Amateur League rule 8(I)(i) states that “in all matches in which it competes, each Club shall play its strongest team in its 1st XI, its second strongest team in its 2nd XI and so on” and rule 8(I)(iii) states that “clubs are expected to hold regular selection meetings or a comparable electronic selection programme to select sides of relative sectional strength”.
It is these rules, as well as the aim that teams are selected on merit and that all players are members of Merton Football Club and should be available for selection for any team, that informs the selection policy of Merton Football Club.
Selection of squads
All squads to be selected on the basis of SAL rule 8(I)(i) whilst using a common sense approach to pay regard to the best interest of the club and its players. This includes embedding the principle that players who give the highest level of availability will be a factor in determining selection.
The general principle is one that is strived for and should be the norm. The principle is designed to prevent the following from occurring: a) higher squads being without sufficient numbers, positions and quality of players, b) players being clearly of too high a standard to the level that they are selected / wanting to play in and c) regular and / or avoidable gaps occurring in squads, which therefore has a detrimental effect on the rest of the club, due to the need to cover those gaps.
Moving players between squads: Being a playing member of Merton Football Club means that the player should be available to be selected by any of the Merton teams. However on occasions, there may be circumstances that restrict the ability to move some players into certain match day squads / teams. Where these situations occur, the team managers in question should seek to find a common sense solution which prevents points a and b from occurring, so that the relevant teams are of the appropriate sectional strength.
The aim is that these situations are relatively infrequent and that a solution will always be found. Where situations occur which result in frequent deviation from the principle, the team manager will discuss the situation with the player concerned and then the committee if necessary to find a solution which results in the principle being upheld.
If the situation occurs where the managers have been unable to find a solution and therefore there are not sufficient players (both in standard and / or number) available to fulfil the higher team’s fixture, there will be no option but to call off the fixture of the affected higher team and all of the teams below that team. This approach would only be used as a last resort and would want to be avoided at all reasonable costs. It is the responsibility of team managers to bear this in mind when they pick their squads and encourage / support the principle that their players should be available for other Merton teams, if selected.
Giving players opportunity: When players are called up to a higher squad, Team Managers are encouraged to ensure that the player is given the opportunity to show what they can do and have a chance of earning places in future squads. Additionally, if a player is selected in a lower squad than the week before, the general expectation is that the player should start at least the first match for the lower squad.
Player unavailability: Unavailability can have a significant impact on the club, especially when it occurs with a few more players being absent from one team. This generally results in the need to temporarily pull players up through all of the teams in the club, which is disruptive for all concerned. There will of course be situations when absence is beyond a player’s control, but where a player’s absence is avoidable, there will be no guarantee of selection in future squads. Team Managers will use reasonable judgment when considering the situation in respect of a player’s unavailability.
Spread of players: The aim is that the spread of players through the squads is relatively even. What should be avoided is relatively high number of gaps occurring at the higher end of the club whilst the lower end of the club has too many players for their squads, which results in unselected playing members. Common sense needs to be applied to this principle so that the impact of achieving it isn’t significantly disruptive to the remainder of the teams / clubs.
A selection meeting will take place every Monday by telephone. This is designed to establish the position early in the week within a concentrated timescale and limit the need for extensive communications throughout the remainder of the week. In co-ordinating the squad selection process, team managers are expected to communicate to the manager of the team beneath them – the players they have selected, those not selected and those unavailable.
Beyond the selection meeting, Managers can choose whatever methods they deem necessary to communicate with other managers but they should be mindful that communications should be restricted to only those that needto know. This is to protect the work life balance of all those who volunteer their time to help run Merton Football Club.
Where players are selected in a different squad from the week before, each manager should carefully consider how they communicate this change to the affected player and explain reasons for the decision.