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Biting Back: Other sporting issues still going on

By Steven Beacom

Best World Cup ever? The 2014 tournament is certainly in the conversation... it's had the lot so far, great matches, great goals, great individual performances, great drama and one of the most controversial episodes in the game's history, courtesy of a certain Luis Suarez, the man this column was named after!

When a World Cup dominates our lives, it can be easy to forget other sport is going on and important events are happening elsewhere.

Earlier this week, as Fifa chewed over the Suarez controversy, club officials at the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) AGM tucked in to making some major calls themselves.

From the 2015-16 season for instance, Irish League clubs will be involved in a play-off for a Europa League place.

I have issues with this because the play-offs will involve those placed third to seventh in a 12 team league which is akin to the 11th placed side in the 20 club Premier League in England having a shot at Europe. Maybe I'll get over my sense that failure is being rewarded by the excitement play-offs always bring.

There'll also be automatic promotion and relegation between the top three divisions, which in time will each have 12 teams, rather than the 12, 14 and 16 which is the case now.

The NIFL are also determined to improve the local game's image and increase funding for the clubs.

The proposals, drawn up with the support of Uefa after widespread consulations, were passed by 32 votes to five.

We can only hope the success of this new plan is just as resounding.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph