Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Windsor Park Sunday football: just sin and bear it

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Windsor Park is set to host its first Sunday game. Fans pictured during Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Russia. Pic David Maginnis
Windsor Park is set to host its first Sunday game. Fans pictured during Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Russia. Pic David Maginnis

Mammon has spoken and the Northern Ireland football team will play on the Sabbath (God willing) a year hence from March.

Being of a vintage that can remember the Lurgan Park swings chained on Sundays, I can appreciate the depth of feeling on both sides of the Never On A Sunday argument.

In some ways, it is comforting to know we live in a country where people still cherish and practice age old biblical values and that, for all the drink and drug excesses on our streets, Sodom and Gomorrah is not yet upon us.

It's the desecration of Saturday nights we need to worry more about than the, by and large, still tranquil Ulster Sunday.

Personally, I have no problem with Sunday sport, or I wouldn't be in this job, and I both understand and respect the views of those who see the dismantling of another tradition of the national football team not playing at home on a Sunday, as a further erosion of all they hold dear.

For the rest of us, it is a case of sin and bear it. Money is the root with football long since having sold its' soul to television. The Euro qualifying schedules were always going to dictate a Northern Ireland home game on a Sunday, non-negotiable as far as the IFA were concerned.

A voice in the wilderness in the great scheme of world football, were the IFA to heed the ridiculous calls to pull out out of the tournament, how would they fund the future of football here?

Harsh, but true. As one concerned voice lamented: "A footballer on £300,000 a week and Northern Ireland playing on a Sunday... where will it all end?"

In many mansions, I replied. Just not the type envisaged in John 14, Chapter 2.

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