Belfast Telegraph

Linfield chief is latest sporting figure to endorse politician as he gives backing to Little Pengelly

By Eamon Sweeney

The chairman of the Irish League Premiership champions has become the latest high profile sporting figure in Northern Ireland to publicly declare his support for a political candidate in next week's General Election.

Roy McGivern, chairman of Linfield FC, posted his support on social media for the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly who is attempting to take the South Belfast seat from outgoing SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, who has won the previous three Westminster contests in the constituency.

During a special edition of BBC Northern Ireland's 'The View' on Thursday night, which focused on the runners in South Belfast, Mr McGivern sent a tweet to the programme which said: "After watching @bbctheview I'm convinced more than ever that @little_pengelly would make a great Member of Parliament for South Belfast."

Mr McGivern's comments follow on from three other well known sporting figures endorsing candidates for the election on June 8.

Gerard Lawlor, chairman of Cliftonville FC, recently gave his backing to Sinn Fein candidate John Finucane in an online video. Another Sinn Fein candidate, Chris Hazzard who is contesting the election in South Down, has received the backing of Pete McGrath who is currently manager of the Co Fermanagh senior Gaelic football team, and who has won All-Ireland championships as manager of his native Co Down.

And, Ulster Unionist Party candidate for Fermanagh South Tyrone, Tom Elliott, has received the endorsement of Ballymena United's manager David Jeffrey.

Mr Elliott warmly welcomed the support of the former Linfield manager, saying: "It was a pleasure to have David back in Fermanagh and South Tyrone again and I'm delighted to receive his support."

Whilst the comments from the sporting figures have been made in a personal capacity, a spokesman for the Irish Football Association said the body did not have a political outlook.

However, Tom Kelly, a former GAA club manager and a PR consultant, said the endorsements dragged sport into the political sphere.

"When you're in an association that is apolitical and you're the public face of it, you should be more circumspect about endorsements," Mr Kelly said.

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