Belfast Telegraph

NIFL should consider summer football, says Carrick Rangers boss Gary Haveron

By Keith Bailie

Carrick Rangers manager Gary Haveron believes summer football is something that the Northern Ireland Football League should consider.

The NIFL are currently participating in a consolation process, which will investigate the possibility of switching League football to the summer. Other alternatives that may be considered include moving fixtures to Friday nights, or changing the format of the divisions.

Haveron, who has played in both the Irish League and the Amateur League, believes that something has to change.

The former Ballymena United player explained: “The crowds aren't what they were when I started playing Irish League football 10 years ago, and I think we might have to try something different to get people in through the gates again.

“I think it would help increase crowds if either the Irish League or the Amateur League switched to summer football.

“There are a lot of football people who would like to come along and watch Irish League matches but can't because they're either playing or involved with their own junior club on a Saturday afternoon.

“If you look at East Antrim for example, there are hundreds of footballers who are playing on a Saturday afternoon. If you think about Larne, you've got Larne Tech Old Boys, Inver Athletic, Wellington Rec and a number of others – and that's before you start talking about reserve and youth sides.

“There are a lot of good football people who aren't able to watch teams like Carrick Rangers and Larne on a Saturday. Obviously there would still be some overlap in the seasons, but I think it would help things.

“Another option would be to move Premiership and Championship to Friday nights. We played Larne in the East Antrim derby last week and a lot of people told me they would have gone if it was played on a Friday night.

“I see Ballyclare Comrades played Larne this Friday. I think that's something that is worth experimenting with.”

The NIFL now governs both the Premiership and the Championship, after the Irish FA stepped aside in the summer. NIFL are currently talking to all of football's relevant shareholders and the governing body are hoping to announce the conclusions of their report at some point in 2014.

Haveron's views echo those of former Linfield player and NIFL director Peter Dornan, who said in August: "Everything is up for discussion and we are going to look seriously at summer football."

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