Intermediate clubs gear up for new era
It's green for go for the IFA's new Premier Intermediate League next August.
The Intermediate Committee have approved a minimum of 10 clubs to set the new league in motion with the option for others to join in August 2009 before promotion and relegation comes into play.
In other words, no PIL club will be going down for at least two seasons by which time the procedures for relegation and promotion will be decided by the Intermediate Committee.
Those clubs engaged in the Soccer Strategy Facilities Funding Programme aspiring to meet the PIL Ground Criteria who are in receipt of a 'Letter to Proceed' from the association by May 31, shall be considered to be compliant with the PIL Ground Criteria and in such circumstances, facilities will be assessed on those elements approved for funding.
All clubs, including senior and juniors, have been informed that the ground criteria must be met by the end of May. Those clubs will have to ask for a formal inspection and be passed by that date. Already nine teams from the Irish League First and Second Divisions should have no problems in meeting the requirements.
The same should apply to those four senior clubs coming down, but if they don't meet the standards, then they will have to go to the First Division or any other intermediate league prepared to accept them.
Ambitious junior clubs can also make the step up if they so desire and there are one or two throughout the country in a position to do so.
The only way into the new 12-team Senior League will be by way of the PIL provided of course the club wanting to go up, meets the senior criteria.
Among those on the threshhold of the new era are Bangor, Ards, Ballyclare Comrades, Ballymoney United, Glebe Rangers, Loughgall, Banbridge Town, Ballinamallard, Carrick Rangers and Mid-Ulster's Killymoon Rangers.
There is no indication of any Amateur League teams wanting to make the move, but that could change as the closing date approaches.