Fermanagh club league fixtures caused a bit of a stir over the past week or so since Fermanagh GAA announced an 18-game league starting on May 21.

There was enough disquiet from some quarters in relation to these proposals for the CCC to take another look at things and put an alternative on the table. Clubs have until tomorrow (Friday) to let the county board know which they prefer.

A quick synopsis of the two proposals on offer is perhaps helpful at this point.

Proposal A

• 18 league games over a 16-week period commencing on May 21 with at least seven without county players. Promotion and relegation as normal.

• Championship takes place after 18 games of league with league finals and playoffs being played after championship concludes.

Proposal B

• Subsidiary competition for club begins on May 21. Divisions split in two and teams play each other once with a final then played. This competition to be played without county players.

• The winners of the four groups will bring three points into a 9-game league where county players are available to play if Fermanagh are no longer in the championship. Finishing second brings two points into next section of league. Finishing third brings one point. Fourth and fifth brings no points.

• League finals will take place prior to the club championship.

• Championship runs after the league is completed and concludes within a few weeks of the Ulster Club championships starting.

So there they are in bullet points. Now, unlike so many Tory MPs we could name, I must declare a vested interest in the outcome. As Manager of Belnaleck I obviously have a certain point of view and I think proposal B is by far the fairer proposal for teams who are fortunate enough to have a number of county players in their squad.

However, even if I were not managing the Art MacMurroughs, I would be heavily in favour of proposal B.

‘Yeah right,’ I hear you scoff. Well, it’s the truth and I have the benefit of being able to call on musings in this very column to back me up.

Firstly, I have written in this space a number of times that the leagues should all be complete before our championships start. It is what the majority of players want and the majority of managers want.

Of course, players and Managers should not dictate things, but their temperature should be at least checked when devising a fixtures programme, which I admit is not a simple or straightforward process.

What the two proposals do show however, is that there are different options available and it is possible to reach a point where the fixture programme has a broad consensus across the county.

I have little doubt that if club players and Managers were polled we would see a majority place their faith in proposal B.

The leagues finishing before championship is something that players want, but it is not the best aspect of proposal B. That is reserved for the proposed county final date.

It has been a constant source of frustration to see our county champions at all grades often having a gap of four or more weeks between winning the county title and entering the Ulster arena.

Their opponents always seem to have the advantage of sharpness and championship competition.

I have a simple philosophy in terms of Fermanagh football and its development, and that is that every step should be taken to allow all teams, club and county, to be the best they can be.

Having the county finals closer to the start of the Ulster Club will only benefit us in the long run. I am absolutely sure of that.

Moving on now to some of the other benefits to proposal B, and I admit these may seem to come from a more red and white jaundiced view.

So, proposal A will see a minimum of seven games without county players. Or, if we look at it another way, 14 points of a possible 36 without county players.

This represents 39 per cent of the total points up for grabs being competed for without county players.

Proposal B sees a minimum of three points, out of a possible 21, to be played for without county players. 14 per cent of the total points on offer.

Proposal B is inherently fairer and there can be little argument made to the contrary.

Another important consideration to take into account is the welfare of the club players. With a reserve league fixed, and county players unavailable, squads across the county are going to be stretched wafer-thin with a sizeable portion of players inevitably asked to play two games in a weekend.

Either proposal will see this happen for the initial four weeks of the season but proposal B does have a few weeks where there is no Senior club action at all. This might offer some respite.

Proposal A sees 18 senior league games across 16 weeks, with many players playing a lot of reserve football in the early part of the year.

This will put a huge physical burden on players and it seems the more sensible approach is to take a path where not as many games are played. Proposal B still allows for a minimum of 13 league games which given the shortened season due to Covid-19 seems the more logical approach.

Finally, credit has to be given to the CCC for the flexibility they have shown. It would have been easy to stubbornly drive forward with their initial plans, but they have instead recognised the real and valid concerns of many across the county.

Now there are two options on the table, clubs have the opportunity to properly canvas their players and management,

Whatever the outcome is, even If it is not the one that this column would prefer, it will have the backing of the majority of clubs. And that can only be a good thing.