Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran chief Coyle hits IFA with double whammy

By Chris Holt

Glentoran Director of Football Roy Coyle has launched a stinging attack on the already under-fire IFA for not helping local clubs in their preparation for European football.

The Glens are in Europa League action this evening at the Oval against KR Reykjavik (7.45pm), trailing 3-0 from a first leg hammering in the Icelandic capital.

And while Coyle, who will be in charge tonight in light of boss Scott Young’s lack of the necessary coaching badges, has no complaints about that particular scoreline, he is irked by what he sees as the number of obstacles being placed in the way of Carling Premiership clubs by UEFA and the IFA’s inaction in countering the problems.

Glentoran had just eight weeks between their final game of last season and that first leg tie in Iceland, giving the players just a six week break before pre-season.

The early start, Coyle feels, is UEFA’s way of trying to squeeze clubs from smaller nations out of the competitions, but the country’s most successful domestic club boss also says that the IFA — which has suffered fierce criticism this week — should be doing more to help raise the profile of our game at that level.

“Over the past number of years UEFA keep moving the goalposts, in a way that, in my opinion, is designed to push countries like ours out of the picture and leave European football for the big clubs,” said Coyle. “We always just seem to be going along with it and it’s making it harder and harder for us to make any significant progress.

“Throughout my time in the game and in visiting other countries while we have been away in Europe, I have seen clubs benefiting from help by their associations and their governments in terms of giving them financial backing to help with their preparation for these matches.

“They have been sent on training camps with the best facilities.

“If you look at Scandinavian clubs, years ago we would have been seen to have been ahead of them, now they are in a different stratosphere compared to us and that’s because their associations have done everything they possibly could to help them.

“They did it down south too. Shelbourne came close to qualifying for the Champions’ League and you can’t say that wasn’t because of the backing that the FAI gave them.”

“We’re all out there flying the flag for the Irish League and Northern Ireland in general but never in my time have the IFA ever offered any help to clubs and it’s time they did something.

“I’m not talking about giving money to players, I’m talking about preparing them physically for difficult games and at the end of the day it’s going to be for their own benefit too because it raises the profile of the IFA at that level.

“They need to get their house in order but then for how long have we been saying that — they seem to go from one crisis to another.”

On the pitch, the Glens face what many would see to be an insurmountable task tonight, but Coyle isn’t giving up hope.

“Of course it’s difficult but if we get an early goal then maybe some nerves might set in,” he added. “We have an uphill task and it’s of our own doing really because we made mistakes over there and that proved crucial.

“But it’s a young team and hopefully they have learned from that.

“It wouldn’t be the first time that a 3-0 deficit has been recovered — I remember Linfield beating Copenhagen 3-0 then losing 4-0 away, so it can happen.”

Coyle welcomes back Colin Nixon, Ciaran Martyn, Andy Hall and Matty Burrows who were all unavailable last week.

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