Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Time to stop moaning and improve local football in Europe

Bayern Munich players celebrate as they lift the UEFA Champions League trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 25, 2013. See PA Story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only when not based solely on any team and/or any player(s) and/or devoted to the UEFA Champions League. No commercial use. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Nobody’s expecting celebrations like this, but Irish League clubs’ European preparations leave a lot to be desired. Bayern Munich players celebrate as they lift the UEFA Champions League trophy.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Arjen Robben of Bayern Muenchen celebrates with the trophy after victory in the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Bayern Munich's Philip Lahm lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 25, 2013.

As complaints go, it's a pretty common one.

From the upper echelons of the Irish Premiership right through to the grassroots level of the game, we repeatedly tell ourselves that UEFA couldn't care less about this little footballing backwater of ours.

They make us play European qualifying fixtures barely a week into the school holidays, force our champions to enter the continent's premier club competition a full two rounds before fourth-placed teams from other nations, weight the procedures to ensure pesky minnows like ours have long since exited the stage by the time the 'proper' teams get involved and hold the draws weeks after all the competing sides have been confirmed, delivering logistical and financial headaches for Irish League clubs who are handed treks to the back of beyond at a mere 10 days' notice.

When questioned by Sunday Life, a UEFA spokesperson defended that timeframe and also informed us that the continent's governing body didn't know if regionalisation (a system which groups clubs together depending on geographic location) would be implemented for tomorrow's Champions League and Europa League draws, nor the mechanisms behind that process.

Read the full story in tomorrow's Sunday Life

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