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Billy Weir

Speed and zoom - not words that football chiefs recognise

Billy Weir



The way ahead: action resumes in Germany this weekend

The way ahead: action resumes in Germany this weekend

AFP via Getty Images

The gates remain closed for local football

The gates remain closed for local football


The way ahead: action resumes in Germany this weekend

Fans of Father Ted will remember the episode when thwarted Lothario Pat Mustard plants a bomb that will explode on Dougal's milk float if it goes over 4mph.


During his attempts to find a solution, Ted talks to another group of priests and after much deliberating and discussion, the best they can come up with at the end of it all 'is there anything to be said for saying another Mass?'

That glorious episode is called 'Speed 3', and just about sums up how local football's chiefs seem to be dealing with the problem of how to get the sport back up and running, with more contact than love-rat Pat was up to with Mrs O'Reilly et al.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that this week's offering is a day later than the norm, I purposely put things on the back-burner for 24 hours to see what emerged from meeting No.6298 on Wednesday when the IFA, NIFL and other assorted initials met 'virtually' to see where we all are after the Executive's five-point plan earlier in the week.

And the results? Virtually nothing. 'Is there nothing to be said for having another Zoom meeting?' was the upshot of it all as the IFA went away to have another get-together online with other interested parties such as the Championship, Premier Intermediate and women's leagues.

Funny how 'speed' and 'zoom' aren't exactly the first two words that spring to mind when it comes to our leaders, be it political or sporting.

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The crux of the matter now seems to be the fifth point of the shambles of a plan that Arlene and co put before us which effectively sees the resumption of close physical contact sports which spectators would be able to attend on a limited basis with social distancing measures remaining in place.

The initial timescale for that is December - anyone for an Irish Cup Final on Boxing Day? - but that seems a remarkable pluck out of the air date when across the world things are moving an awful lot quicker.

The return to action, or Project Restart for those who like that sort of thing, is all things to all men, Uefa still adopting a holding pattern high above their evil underground lair until later this month to see what individual associations have up their sleeves. There must be an awful lot of vests being worn up at Windsor is my assumption but they have until May 25 before they have to come up with something, anything, for Uefa with the local game's next line in the sand on May 31 with football postponed until then.

The fifth point of the Executive plan means that is like Speed 3 just a number on the end of a word, there won't be a ball kicked here for months unless football can come up with a plan that doesn't involve more meetings.

Across Europe there is absolutely no consistency or coherency in how football is dealing with the crisis.

In France and Holland, Ligue 1 and Eredivisie have declared their seasons over, while the Bundesliga is due to kick off again in Germany this weekend.

The Premier League in England is still earmarking a return.

Of course, lives and people's futures are what the main concern is here, but let's face facts, there is too much TV money tied up in the game there to do anything else because very few of the clubs have the large sacks of cash given to them by Sky and other companies and, quite rightly, they will want it back when they have nothing to show, literally, for their investment.

In Scotland, the Champions and Leagues One and Two have called it a day, with things not just as simple in the SPFL with Rangers and Hearts seemingly determined to keep the milk float rolling on at 3.99mph before the inevitable explosion.

Italy's Serie A and La Liga in Spain are pencilled in for a mid-June return, while those pesky Belgians don't know what to be at. The clubs are expected to be back training on Monday but the government there has banned sport until July 31.

Belgium was also the first country to pull the shutters down, a decision taken by the league chiefs but six weeks later that still hasn't been rubber-stamped by the clubs.

Elsewhere, while down the leagues has ended, in Portugal, Turkey and Denmark action at the top level is due to start again, with the Danes up first on Monday and never has a clash between AGF Aarhus and Randers been more eagerly anticipated across the football-starved globe.

Of course, the big difference between those countries and leagues above is that they are full-time, professional bodies with much more cash floating about than here.

The IFA has come in for a fair bit of stick from clubs for not releasing more funds from the Uefa dosh pile, but, like Father Ted, it is probably just resting in their account to help pay the Zoom bill.

The suggestion made in more and more quarters that the money be evenly split between the clubs went down rather badly with Linfield, who, hardly surprisingly, would like to keep the share they feel they have earned as champions-elect.

So, we await the findings, or lack of, from the next meeting which will probably come up with the following solution - 'is there nothing to be said for another meeting?' Someone step on the accelerator...

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