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Institute lodge appeal over relegation from Premiership and rejection of 'Danish model'

 

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Institute manager Sean Connor

Institute manager Sean Connor

©INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Institute manager Sean Connor

Institute have lodged an official appeal with the Irish FA over their relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership.

As a result of the NI Football League's decision to curtail the Irish League season, bottom side Institute were demoted to the Championship.

The north west club were just three points behind Warrenpoint Town with, under normal circumstances, seven games left to play.

The decision to use a points-per-game model to finalise the standings was made by an outside sports consultancy firm and came at the end of long, fractious discussions between the 12 Premiership clubs, NIFL and Irish FA representatives.

As part of those talks, several ways to conclude the campaign were put forward, including a suggestion by Institute to adopt something based on the 'Danish model' for one or more seasons.

It would see the Premiership move to a 14-team division, but would alleviate clubs' concerns over three relegation places next season in order to return to the current 12-team set-up.

That's because the structure would see a complicated play-off system decide on promotion and relegation, with between one and three teams relegated/promoted depending on results.

Institute feel aggrieved that the plan, which they see as a 'least harm' solution to the Premiership's Covid-19 problem, was not 'discussed in detail' due to time constraints.

It is for that reason that the club have now lodged an official appeal with the Irish FA.

What is the 'Danish model'?

It's based on the Danish Superliga, which is made up of 14 teams with, every season, between one and three teams suffering relegation.

Each team plays each other home and away, resulting in 26 matches before the league splits into a six-team top section and eight-team bottom section.

The teams in the top section play each other home and away, resulting in, for them, a 36-game season and the top side crowned champions.

In the bottom section, a rather convoluted structure sees the eight sides split into two groups, playing each team in the same group home and away. That results in a 32 game campaign for them, before the play-off fun begins.

The top two finishers in each group enter a two-legged knock-out tournament. The winners of that play the third-placed side from the top section for a European place.  The peculiarity of that, of course, being that one of the better teams in the bottom section has more chance of Europe than, for example, the sixth placed team in the division.

The bottom two teams in each group play an even more complicated mini-tournament, along with the second and third placed teams from the Championship, to decide promotion and relegation.

The two third-placed sides play off with the winners remaining in the top tier and the losers playing the second-tier's third-placed team. The losers of that tie do not play the following season in the SuperLiga.

The fourth placed sides in each group play-off with the losers relegated. The winners of that tie play the Championship's second-placed side, with the losers also denied a place in the following season's top division.

So, depending on results, between one and three teams can be relegated.

The Danish SuperLiga has used the same model since the 16/17 campaign. In the three terms so far, two teams have been relegated twice with three teams demoted in the 17/18 season.

What did Institute say about it?

The club's statement read: "We put forward an additional proposal for the adoption (for one or more seasons) of a 14 team league based on the Danish model.

"That model, used by a country currently standing at 13th in the UEFA coefficient table compared to Northern Ireland’s 48th position, has a number of benefits.

"Firstly, while it is possible that three teams might end up being relegated, it is equally possible that only two, or even one team could be relegated, depending on the outcome of a series of end of season playoffs.

"In addition, the Danish model has the benefit of reducing the number of games towards the end of the season which have little or no importance, other than the personal pride of the teams involved. Indeed, the increased importance associated with these games, provided by the Danish model would almost certainly lead to increased gate receipts and potentially additional broadcast media income for the league."

Belfast Telegraph