NIFL’s Premiership Management Committee (PMC) (which comprises of one representative from each of the twelve Premiership clubs) was scheduled to meet tomorrow night to discuss the current close down of local football. On Friday that meeting was postponed and is now provisionally re-arranged for Wednesday night. Premiership clubs are told this is to await the outcome of a UEFA video conference call on Tuesday at which the UEFA Executive Committee will discuss European football’s response to the virus outbreak with all 55 national associations. NIFL is anticipating that “these discussions will enable us to develop an action plan to conclude the remainder of the season”.
Personally I do not share the IFA’s optimism in their statement of last Friday – “we expect games to restart on Saturday 4 April” – and fear it could well be much longer than that. If indeed the 2019/20 season is ever to restart, who knows? At present clubs have not been given any guidance or directive regarding training. Should the season not resume in April, but indications are that it will within subsequent months, that scenario may well pose questions for some clubs in relation to contracts and wages. Then there is the factor of already booked managers/backroom staff/players/volunteers etc annual holiday arrangements – and I haven’t mentioned essential remedial grounds work programmed for the summer months.
Our Premiership clubs already would seem to have various options to consider – e.g. stop the league now at 31 games; try to play the two outstanding rounds which would mean all clubs would have met each other three times; delay the start of the 2020/21 season in order to complete this one, etc. A decisive factor would seem to be when UEFA would need to be advised of our European representatives for 2020/21 and that’s assuming Champions League and Europa League will get underway as currently scheduled. Arrangements for the semi finals and final of this season’s Irish Cup are of course a matter for the IFA to resolve and not NIFL or its PMC.
I’m aware quite a few of our Premiership clubs feel very strongly that the IFA should be supporting the cash flows of clubs during this potentially difficult financial time and would expect the issue to be raised at this week’s PMC meeting.
As a board we at Glenavon must now await the outcome of Wednesday’s PMC meeting and then discuss the ramifications at our own meeting planned for early next week. Meantime it is hoped that the club offices will continue to be open normal hours Monday to Thursday for as long as possible. The office should be used as a telephone point of contact for anyone with a query or concerns and as far as possible personal callers should be kept to an absolute minimum. Club directors are of course also available for contact if required. This website will endeavour to update everyone on the very latest developments just as soon as possible.
Meantime take care and stay safe.