KELBURNE chiefs have blasted plans to slash the hockey season to a pawltry 13 GAMES next term.
Scottish Hockey have unveiled plans that would see the top-flight battle it out over a fixture list five games lighter than normal.
The change has been forced by ever-growing list of international commitments following the introduction of the inaugural World League and the Champions Challenge.
League chiefs say their plan – which involves a each member of the 10-team set-up taking on their rivals once before employing an SPL-style split to produce a further four-game run to decide the championship and relegation – will free up international stars such as ’Burne rising star Michael Bremner to play all their domestic games.
But the new set-up has ruled out May and September from the schedule completely.
And that has enraged Whitehaugh president Harry Coles, who insists the indoor version of the game should see its campaign trimmed back instead.
He told Express Sports: “This has been a long-running dispute since last season, fronted by Kelburne.
“We are not happy with this plan at all. It’s a fudge.
“Why have they cut the outdoor game’s season and left the indoor season untouched?
“The outdoor game is the premier version of the sport and the indoor season should have been cut back.”
In a letter to member clubs, Scottish Hockey Chief Executive Officer Robert Heatly said: “We canvassed the opinion of all our member clubs last year and the majority did not want a curtailment to the indoor season.
“Any curtailment would only free up two weekends and this, together with the winter weather and the wishes of the clubs, meant that restrictions on the indoor season would not only be inequitable but would fail to provide the desired effect.
“Consequently, the organisation was placed in a difficult position and had no choice but to move forward with the plan for 2012/13.
“If Scottish Hockey were to run a full 18-match programme, and we have examined this, it would require a minimum of five league double headers.
“Additional double headers would also be required by some teams for cup matches, possible rearrangements due to adverse weather, and potential further disruption due to evolving international commitments.”
But Coles dismissed the suggestion that Scotland’s clubs were happy with the new arrangements.
He said: “It’s not to our liking – we wanted a full 18-game programme, as did the majority of the teams.
“Scottish Hockey have chosen to ignore the clubs and go their own way.
“Their reason was that an 18-game programme would mean more double headers. But they could have halved the indoor season and made room that way. The outdoor game should be the priority.
“Now our fear is that this will affect the credibility of the league. How can any side claim to be the champions when they have only played 13 games?”
Kelburne will return to the EuroLeague – the continent’s premier club contest – in the autumn and Coles claims the new league set-up could harm the Paisley club’s chances of success.
He said: “We have also got our EuroLeague involvement to consider. It begins in October and this will restrict our preparations.
“The SHU should be doing all they can to help our teams in Europe. This goes against that. It’s ludicrous.”