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Exciting local game needs Premier TV coverage, says David Jeffrey

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 10/09/2016

Speaking out: David Jeffrey has backed fans’ calls to get more screen time for the Danske Bank Premiership
Speaking out: David Jeffrey has backed fans’ calls to get more screen time for the Danske Bank Premiership

David Jeffrey has backed calls for more television coverage of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Over 1,000 fans have signed a petition urging the BBC to up its game when it comes to showcasing local football on TV.

And Jeffrey believes the Irish League deserves a much wider audience.

His Ballymena United side, who host Cliftonville today, have certainly been worth watching this term - their five league games to date have produced 29 goals.

"The BBC does a great job with regards to radio and match coverage, it's absolutely fantastic, but what annoys me is that there isn't enough TV coverage," he said.

"We're looking to the BBC, but where did UTV go?

"They don't own the rights but they are not even looking to bid or get involved.

"Our written press do a fantastic job and I've been part and parcel of that with my Sunday Life column.

"We are on the back page more often, there are good stories and there is great interest.

"We get radio coverage but really, when you have great entertainment, it should be given a wider screening."

The Sky Blues take on Cliftonville today in a game between two sides who have struggled for consistency this term.

Last weekend showed the Braidmen at their best - and also their worst.

They went 2-0 down to Dungannon, but battled back for a point.

Jeffrey has overseen big changes since taking charge earlier this year.

And while he can see progress, the former Linfield boss has warned it will take time for them to reach the finished product.

He added: "Cliftonville will be a tough encounter but for us it's another challenge and it's another marker where you can say, 'okay, how much have you learned and where are you now?'

"I can see progression - no doubt about it.

"We have let 12 players go, we have brought eight or nine in, and have targeted young men who are hungry and want an opportunity and who are prepared to work hard and listen.

"It takes a long time for that to settle and come together.

"It took three and a half years before I won the league at Linfield, so I'm not going to turn Ballymena around overnight.

"But we're making steps all the time and the players deserve a lot of credit."

In the day's other matches, Glenavon are expected to welcome back Northern Ireland Under-21 players Rhys Marshall, Joel Cooper and Mark Sykes to their line-up for today's match against Ballinamallard United at Mourneview Park.

Elsewhere, Glentoran will be without right-back Aaron Smyth for their game against Ards after the defender was suspended by the club following the conclusion of an internal disciplinary process.

Smyth, who joined the east Belfast club in the summer from Carrick Rangers, will be unavailable for today's tie but is expected to return for their rearranged clash with Glenavon on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Crusaders will have a book launch at 12.30pm in the Social Club at Seaview ahead of their match against Dungannon Swifts.

The book, "We're Red, We're Black!" takes a behind the scenes look at a season in the Irish League.

Tickets can be booked by emailing ncrues@aol.com

Belfast Telegraph

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