Too many obstacles for season to restart


FORMER Balinamallard United manager Whitey Anderson believes there are too many unanswered questions and obstacles for the Danske Bank Premiership and Bluefin Sport Championship to be completed on the field.

The Omagh man hopes he is proved wrong but said that because there are so many factors to take into consideration it was going to very difficult for the domestic season to resume.


He, too, said that the Irish Football Association and Northern Ireland Football League had come in for unfair criticism since football was suspended owing to the coronavirus pandemic back in March.

“There are many opinions in relation to it, and mine’s might not be any different to a lot of people or some people. Will the season ever be finished? There is a possibility,” he said.

“There has been a lot of criticisim of the Irish Football Association and NIFL in relation to it but I’m not exactly sure what people want the authorities to do here.
“They are trying to give it as long as they can to see if they can play out the season. I can understand a lot of the junior leagues closing down but the Premiership is a different thing. It’s a business, there is Europe to think about, finance to think about. They are obviously trying to give it as long as they can to give the league the opportunity to be finished. I can understand that.
“Will it ever be finished? Only time will tell.

“If it doesn’t start until mid July and it’s going to take a month for the season to be completed, then what do you do about next season? Is it going to be shorter? Let’s face it, if it does start then what about the medical side of thing?
“In England they are testing people, they are being very well looked after. What’s going to happen here in the Premiership and Championship if they do start at up? Will there be testing? How often will be they be tested? And who’s going to pay for it? That is a big stumbling block to the season being finished in my opinion.
“And as Ivan Sproule said if it causes the death of one person it is not worth it.
“If I was a betting man I would say the season will not finish on the field. I hope I am proved wrong and that the season comes to a satisfactory conclusion.”
If the season isn’t finished on the field then NIFl will have to consider a number of options on how they determine placings, sort out relegation and promotion and decide who will fill the lucrative European places.

Those are all major obstacles to overcome and like everyone else Anderson says clubs are going to have to live with the fact that there will be winners and losers.
Linfield are currently four points clear at the top of the Premiership while Portadown lead the Championship by six points from the Mallards. Anderson asks is it right to award those teams the respective titles when the season hasn’t been completed.

“It’s unprecedented times in terms of the virus and it affects so many things in life and sport has been one of the many casualities,” he continued.
“If the season doesn’t be completed on the field there are obviously going to be serious issues.
“How can award the league to a team with 20% of the season still to be played? In that case it’s very hard to hand someone a winners’ medal in my opinion.
“I have also heard the argument that if you have played 80% of the season and you take all that has gone into that, the players’ committment, the club’s commitment, the finance and all that has happened around it should there not be some reward?
“The bottom line is there are going to be winners and losers. The majority of clubs will want a conclusion by doing the right thing but by the same token there are clubs with a vested interest who will look after themselves.
“In England it was said that the bottom six teams were against any relegation, of course they are going to say that.

“I think it’ll be the same over here. First and foremost clubs look after their own interests, that’s the nature of things.”

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