Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Calls to stop cup shut out

Opposition has been levelled at moves within the IFA to bring in a new Irish Challenge Cup committee without representation from intermediate football.

The proposal which along with others involving significant changes in corporate governance, will come before an EGM at the end of October.

The IFA are under pressure to bring everything together in order to release £4.2m (part of the original £8m) from DCAL so that clubs can get on with ground improvements before next August when the new Irish Premier League and Premier Intermediate League, are due to start.

Basically, those responsible for drawing up the proposals, led by vice-president David Martin, have done a good job on the fundamentals. They are on the right road and the changes they want, are justified.

But amendments need to be made and these will be put before the Executive Committee tonight to ensure fairness, equality of opportunity and effective governance.

The construction of the new 10-man board to run the game, is also likely to be amended to include not just potential candidates from the Council, but also from standing committees, i.e Senior, Junior and Intermediate.

Let's go back to the Irish Cup Committee.

At the postponed EGM on June 19, the proposal then - correct under the constitution - had a seven-man body made up of three senior representatives, two from the Intermediate Committee plus the chairman and vice-chair of the proposed Football Committee.

But this week, at a meeting convened to inform the IFA Council and members of the Junior and Intermediate Committees of the new proposals, low and behold it was for a seven-man committee made up of senior representatives only!

It would appear the seniors want to run the competition which does not belong to them, on a Premier League basis, even though they were guilty of making a mess for more years than I care to remember.

But of course, it is an IFA event which the seniors compete in along with intermediate clubs and the former have no more rights than the latter.

The Irish Cup is not a Premier League competition and that must be recognised.

While intermediate representatives spoke against the plan, not one word was expressed to justify the proposal even though an explanation was requested from the floor. Silence was the answer.

The voice of opposition on the other hand, is ringing out loud and clear.

It is essential that DCAL is happy with the IFA structures before it releases any more public money. In view of the IFA's past history, it is vital that government who have no interest in running the show, have confidence in football's ability to operate as a fit for purpose body.

And by the way, once that confidence is in place, a further £13m is in the pipeline for ground improvements.

JJB Irish Cup round one for matches on Saturday October 7 (2.30pm): Ballymacash Rangers v Blackers Mill; Islandmagee v Killymoon Rangers; Downshire YM v Hanover; Magherafelt Sky Blues v Bloomfield; Barn united v Tandragee Rovers; Portadown BBOB v Rosario YC; Orangefield OB v Albert Foundry; UUC v Raceview; Newington YC v Draperstown Celtic; Bangor Amateurs v Malachians; Warrenpoint Town v Donard Hospital; Newbuildings Utd v Markethill Swifts; Dundondald v Abbey Villa; Sport & Leisure v Saintfield Utd; Dergivew v Wellington Rec; Clough Rangers Athletic v Downpatrick.

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