Belfast Telegraph

IFA should do more to help Irish League clubs compete in Europe: Crusaders chairman

 

Speaking out: Ronnie Millar
Speaking out: Ronnie Millar

By Graham Luney

Crusaders chairman Ronnie Millar has added his voice to calls for more assistance from the Irish FA to help clubs deliver in Europe.

The Northern Ireland Football League and IFA are looking at ways to help improve performances on the continent at a time when there is a real danger that one Europa League spot could be taken away from the Irish League.

Northern Ireland is currently 52nd out of 55 nations in the 2018-19 Uefa co-efficient list and there's a very real threat that one European slot could be lost if performances do not improve this summer.

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey argued: "Our league, in conjunction with the Irish FA, need to be looking at ways to make our teams more competitive in Europe."

Crues chairman Millar has echoed those sentiments.

"We need more help from the Irish FA with respect to fitness and perhaps the setting up of training camps," he argued.

"Other countries give clubs assistance and the IFA should help us more. The association can provide more support and investment. Our boys get a four or five-week summer break and they're back in training but if you're in the European play-offs and a preliminary round you might have only three weeks' break.

"It's very hard for semi-professional footballers to sacrifice holidays and family time.

"Clubs need to adapt and this is one of the reasons why we went down the professional route. Clubs must go down that route to give themselves a better chance of success in Europe."

Meanwhile, Ballinamallard United are still hopeful that Josh McIlwaine will feature in the Irish Cup final as the County Fermanagh side prepare to appeal the striker's three-match ban.

McIlwaine was sent off on Saturday after an off-the-ball incident with Carrick Rangers' Caolan Loughran.

The Mallards are hoping to have the punishment reduced to a two-game suspension.

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