As the IFA/NIFL dither on what decision they will take about how to end season 2019/20, I, as a supporter, am getting fed up of the lack of clear direction and leadership from the two bodies. This again has me thinking, “who actually runs the league we follow?”. The IFA make a statement. Then we have the underbody, NIFL, with its legislation making a carbon copy statement. Both providing no clear direction on how the league will finish other than they ‘will decide in June’.
The league stopped in March and they are now holding out until June to make a call on what the next move forward will be. UEFA has given the leagues around Europe until June to come up with the final decision on how to finish. Maybe it is taking a few months for them to come up with the master plan that they are going to show us in the next few months.
But this for me comes down to money and the lack of it. UEFA has stated that the top 3 teams will qualify for Europe if the league is finished early – not NIFL, nor Linfield, Coleraine, or Crusaders. Which begs the question of Kenny Bruce, who himself has pumped a few million quid into Larne. What have you done to justify a share of European money or a place in Europe? We know you need to get money back from your investment, and it is clear the golden pots of European football are what you are after, but your team has been marking time in 6th position most of the season.
This brings me to the decision making of the NIFL. Making the Crues play their last 5 games in the split away from home last season. It was the end of money in the season which saw the Crues generate zero money for the club. But we didn’t see the Crues asking for the gate receipts of other clubs in the top end of the split. Nor did we see the Crues going to the newspapers and complaining. This season once again sees the Crues generate zero money from the back end of the season. Yet we have a businessman coming into the league for the first time wanting to take a cut of European money.
The other debate is about sharing European money evenly and three clubs are making the most noise about it. Two have had major investment and need to see returns. The other, Ballymena United, will get their payment from their horrible showing in last season’s European qualifiers. They will pocket in and around £200k and still are calling for the European money to be split. Or is it their £200k they are offering to be split? Unlikely.
How should we finish this league? Just make it null and void, but with the season already 80% complete, this will not happen. This is going to be one interesting call that could cause backlashes everywhere. I hear rumours that they will play the Irish Cup. Why? No European place for winning it, so why not play out the league. Are we going to follow the lead of the crazy Scottish ‘professional’ football league? I say professional very loosely. Awarding the Championship, relegating clubs before it’s over who were still well capable of staying up.
Let’s get together here and call the league. The governing body needs to show that they are the leaders within the league and call it. Not the new businessmen that have walked into the league trying to throw their weight about because they have a few quid. The same men that have done nothing to help the Irish league over the last number of years. Clubs are losing more money and the IFA does not see helping clubs as a priority. Safety and integrity of the league is at stake here, or we will have another SPFL circus going on in around our own local game. Let’s face it, we have no big TV sponsorship deal to maintain. Well, unless it’s the IFA showcase Irish Cup final shown live on the BBC. The IFA once again are looking after themselves and not the clubs nor the fans.
The NIFL go on again and again on how they are trying to make the Irish league great. Well now is the time to show it. Clubs need direction so that they know what they are doing before this turns into one big laughing circus. The league does not need another SPFL scenario.