Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville boss Eddie not a Setanta Cup fan

By Graham Luney

Eddie Patterson says he shares Linfield’s serious concerns regarding the future of the Setanta Sports Cup.

The Blues say they are not prepared to face Derry City on February 27 after the Candystripes were expelled from the League of Ireland Premier Division.

And Cliftonville also have concerns about the financial health of their cup opponents Cork City who have had to sail through a cash crisis.

The all-Ireland tournament has lost much of its sparkle among clubs in Northern Ireland and the fixtures pile-up caused by the sub zero temperatures this winter has raised fresh concern about the future of the competition.

“I wouldn’t shed any tears if the tournament folded,” said Patterson (below). “It’s two additional fixtures that we could do without. It’s going to be very difficult to arrange these games.

“To be honest I was all for the Setanta at the start as it was a noble idea. Unfortunately for us, two years running we have had to travel to Cork and now this time we are travelling to Cork and Sligo.

“This travelling is a big expense for the club and the participation fee doesn’t cover us. It certainly won’t compensate us.

“There is a similar scenario with Cork and Derry City. They seem to be going out of business then someone comes in, puts money in, resurrects their name. To be honest I don’t know what way Cork stand at the moment. I don’t know if they are still going to be in the tournament because of what has happened to them financially.”

Cliftonville were hoping that their big money Sky match with Glentoran at Solitude tonight would have netted the club £15,000, but that clash has failed to defeat the weather.

Crusaders have tasted less frustration than their opponents during the winter because of their new 4G pitch at Seaview and even though managers and players have been critical of the artificial surface, Patterson has defended it.

“After the performance that we put in on Boxing Day I could not be a critic of it,” he added.

“I wasn’t happy with the surface as I thought it was frosty and I understand Crusaders will be lifting it and putting it down again.

“Maybe if it was laid properly it would be the ideal surface as it suits very good technical players and we have those. We have players with a good first touch who can pass the ball about.

“If the club had an opportunity to lay it and it was laid properly, then it is an option as it will bring in money to the club. Crusaders are renting it out and they have marketed it very well.”

Patterson can now polish his Carling Football Writers Manager of the Month award after Cliftonville enjoyed a 100 per cent record in the league during December, clocking up wins over Linfield, Dungannon Swifts and the Crues.

If the Reds can win their three games in hand over their neighbours they would be three points ahead of the Crues. With Linfield and Glentoran also fighting for the title, the stakes are high every week, but Patterson is refusing to allow any title talk at the club.

“I’m delighted with the way things are going,” he added.

“At the start of the season we were inconsistent, but the younger players have settled in and found their feet. They are accustomed to being first-team players.

“The big thing is that that momentum creates a hunger and competition. The players who are injured want to return quicker, that’s good for the squad and if we can keep that going who knows?

“Our target at the start of the season was to consolidate our position because of the players who have left the club. Now we are in a position to secure a place in the top six and reassess from there.”

Belfast Telegraph

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