Belfast Telegraph

February date for CIS final

Two month wait after Saturday's washout

By John Campbell

The Irish FA will today confirm that the CIS Insurance Cup final will now take place on Saturday February 2 next year.

It is understood that the new date for the showpiece game has already been agreed following a hastily arranged meeting immediately after the final between Crusaders and Linfield was washed out on Saturday afternoon when the Windsor Park pitch was left waterlogged after hours of torrential rain.

Administrators, the participating clubs, the sponsors and the BBC - who were to show the game live on Saturday afternoon - put their heads together and with very few dates available within the immediate future early February was chosen as the most suitable time to play the game.

A midweek date was thought to be unacceptable for the sponsors, particularly as that would have seen the game lose its live television coverage and the broadcasters are happy to go along with showing the game some eight weeks behind schedule.

The IFA will now inform the rest of the clubs in the Premier League that their fixtures that weekend will take place on the Friday evening before making the date public.

Now all those involved will be praying that the rain stays off, allowing the game to be played at the second time of asking - otherwise it will provide a real fixture nightmare for the IFA and the clubs.

This coming Saturday was suggested for the rearrangement, with the normal league programme also going ahead other than Crusaders' trip to Glentoran and the Blues' visit to Newry City.

That was quickly deemed unsuitable, firstly because arrangements will have already have been put in place by clubs and supporters as well as the fact that the Irish Premier League under-23 team are away in Belgium this week with David Jeffrey as manager, giving him little time to prepare his team for a cup final.

Games on the Saturday before Christmas are never well attended, so that was never a possibility and neither were the next three weekends after that.

A week later the Irish Cup begins for the Premier League sides and with fears that the weather at the end of January may be even worse than in December the idea of February was reached.

The Irish FA's Head of Competition Services, Craig Stanfield, said: " Obviously the weather has been horrendous.

"We had a weather warning from the Police on Friday evening, so we were well aware that there might be a difficult situation.

"We arrived at the ground at 9am and the referee David Malcolm came to inspect the pitch at 10.45am. At that time the pitch was still playable.

"The weather then deteriorated, we contacted David to come back to the ground and he carried out a second inspection at 12.30pm by which time the pitch had become severely unplayable and things were so bad that we had no alternative but to postpone the fixture.

"It is very difficult to rearrange the game. We held a meeting of all the stakeholders, we have sponsors, Premier League, clubs and TV discussed the possibility of when to play the game.

"A final decision will be taken on Monday by lunch-time and the match will be played sometime in New Year. It certainly won't be played before Christmas."

Belfast Telegraph


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