Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: Big changes lie ahead for Irish League

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton

By Graham Luney

With another Danske Bank Premiership campaign done and dusted, managers, players and supporters are assessing where it went right and wrong.

Dramatic change lies ahead as a new play-off system will be introduced at the end of next season for a Europa League place.

While the spotlight has understandably fallen on Crusaders who won the title for the first time in 18 years, Glenavon's late surge to the European stage was a remarkable story.

And there is no-one who can say the Lurgan Blues don't deserve their Europa League adventure this summer after storming to a third-placed finish. But if the new play-off system had already been introduced, Gary Hamilton's side would not have been guaranteed a European place.

In fact, with the seventhplaced team entering the play-off, Ballymena United as well as Glentoran, Cliftonville or Portadown could have snatched that cherished spot.

All Glenavon's incredible efforts could have been in vain.

What you will get is more competitive matches at the end of the season and the Northern Ireland Football League wants to remove, as much as they possibly can, meaningless matches as the season reaches a climax.

It's an intriguing idea but we only imagine how a club like Glenavon would feel if some play-off misfortune meant their consistent form which netted a third-placed finish counted for nothing.

Is it a fair and just way of distributing a European place and the riches it brings?

I don't think anyone can say it is.

Belfast Telegraph


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