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Glenn Ferguson: Finishing football season is the only fair result for clubs

 

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Play on: Glenn Ferguson has warned against voiding league campaigns

Play on: Glenn Ferguson has warned against voiding league campaigns

Play on: Glenn Ferguson has warned against voiding league campaigns

Linfield legend Glenn Ferguson says he strongly believes league seasons, including the Danske Bank Premiership, should be finished when it is safe to resume playing football.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the curtain down on the game with titles, cup competitions and European places still to be decided.

Football in Northern Ireland has been suspended but clubs still want to complete the Irish Cup, which has reached the semi-final stage, and finish league campaigns so that champions can be determined and promotion and relegation issues resolved.

The three European places awarded to Premiership sides must also be secured but football may not return until July or August at the earliest.

A last resort for all leagues is to declare their campaigns null and void but Uefa have warned that clubs may not be eligible for European football next season if they cancel their competitions prematurely, due to the pandemic.

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Ferguson, who won five Northern Ireland caps, said: "I'm not one of those people who believe in simply voiding the season. You can't say to teams in any league you can't win it, that would be very unfair."

The Belgian top flight announced on Thursday it was ending its season, with Club Brugge declared national champions. The league stated it was acting on advice from the government and public health experts.

The Irish FA and Northern Ireland Football League remain committed to finishing the campaign when it’s safe to do so.

In the Premiership, Linfield are four points ahead of Coleraine with seven games remaining while in the Championship, leaders Portadown have the same advantage over second-placed Loughgall.

It would probably take more than a month to complete the league campaigns and the three remaining Irish Cup fixtures but Ferguson says finishing seasons is the only fair action to take.

“If you void a season then you get into the legalities of the situation,” added Ferguson, Linfield’s Academy director.

“Portadown might look at their legal options thinking they should be promoted, while Warrenpoint and Institute would be delighted.

“I think it’s right seasons should finish. Look at Liverpool, who have waited 30 years for a title. I’m a United man myself but it’s not right someone taking the title from them.

“And you can’t hand the title to Linfield legally because other teams can win it.

“Linfield are only four points clear and it’s a mess. We are just going to have to play football in July or August or whenever we can and play catch up.”

Ferguson says he doesn’t envy the task facing football authorities plotting a way out of this crisis.

“It’s hard to know what to do with the virus predicted to peak in the coming weeks,” said the former Glenavon frontman.

“When the players do come together again, it will be like pre-season for them. But reality has kicked in and tough decisions have to be made.

“I am missing the football but it is irrelevant at the minute. This health crisis has put the game into perspective.”

The legendary striker is far from convinced playing behind closed doors is the answer.

“I don’t think any of the clubs would like that,” he added. “They need to generate money by getting fans through the doors.

“Games would be like practice matches with no atmosphere, it just wouldn’t be the same.”


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