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'It's a worry': Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin fears that Irish League season may not restart after pause in play



Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin has admitted it's a 'worry' that the Danske Bank Premiership may not restart from the pause in play.

The season has been suspended from 6pm today and is currently scheduled to restart on January 23rd, along with a Covid-19 testing regime for players, club staff and officials.

However, McLaughlin is concerned that the return date may be put back until, as proved the eventual fate of the 19/20 Premiership campaign, any attempts to return to the pitch are abandoned.

"Who's to say it only lasts two weeks? It could last longer," he told Radio Ulster.

"The cases going up are crazy. It's scary, especially as footballers coming in to training and playing matches. You could pick up the virus at any stage.

"We've all got our own families to go home to. It's a massive risk you're taking to be involved in football. I'm in favour of (the break) surely.

"If it's not two weeks, it could go on for two months. We've been here before last year when we were told it was a two-week break and we never played again. That's a worry as footballers but obviously people's health comes first. If it has to go on longer than two weeks then so be it but let's hope it's not to the end of the season."

McLaughlin said he would support the pause being lengthened if cases continued to rise over the coming fortnight.

"Definitely. If it's got to go on longer, it's got to go on longer," said McLaughlin. "You can't be putting any official or player or coach's health a risk, or their families. This should be in no way jeopardising people's health."

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter, whose side had just fought back to secure a 2-2 draw in the north Belfast derby, echoed McLaughlin's support for the pause and willingness to lengthen the break in play, should cases remain high.

"You hear the Prime Minister and scientists saying we're in for a really tough two weeks with numbers," he said. "We're anxious about it so therefore we have to be very careful around what we're doing.

"Even through all the stuff we're doing, we're picking up some cases at our own clubs so it's time to say let's take a two week break and then we need some testing to make sure we're as safe as we can be. How that's worked out, we need to talk to the IFA and NIFL.

"Players and clubs want to play, but we have to do it safely. If we're going to play, we have to be tested."

Belfast Telegraph

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