Belfast Telegraph

Irish League clubs in crisis talks

By Steven Beacom

The spokesman for Dunloy FC has revealed that he is in negotiations with senior clubs in a bid to resolve the stand off threatening to erupt at next week’s Irish FA EGM.

Dunloy’s proposals have caused controversy throughout football here and consternation amongst senior and some intermediate sides.

Senior clubs are unhappy that Dunloy want to reduce their representation on the IFA Council from 12 to two, while intermediate clubs have expressed a fear that the millions of pounds coming from Sports Minister Nelson McCausland could be put in jeopardy if Dunloy’s proposals are accepted.

But according to Billy McIlroy, representing intermediate club Dunloy from his own Ballymena Provincial League, he is extremely hopeful that agreement can be reached between the parties involved before next Thursday’s crunch meeting at the Stormont hotel.

He stated that he has been involved in discussions with Hugh Wade, chairman of the senior clubs, and believes a positive outcome can be reached by as early as Monday.

“I have contacted Hugh Wade to find out what is causing the senior clubs concern,” said McIlroy.

“Basically there are four points from our proposals that they have problems with.

“Firstly they don’t want their representation on Council reduced from 12 to 2.

“They don’t want a senior club official to lose the post of IFA vice-president.

“They don’t want their representation on the IFA Football Committee reduced from three to one.

“And lastly they are against our proposal which relates to representation on the Challenge Cup committee. We believe there should be three seniors compared to the six at present.

“It is my understanding that they don’t have a problem with our proposal to have one independent on the IFA Executive Board acting as chairman instead of the two currently sitting on board.”

Sports Minister McCausland may, however, have a problem with that as he seeks to ensure the IFA is a body fit for purpose before releasing £23 million for the upgrading of Windsor Park and potentially more money for facilities province-wide. “I don’t see why the Sports Minister would have a problem with that because a good strong independent chairman would have more power than the two independents at present,” added McIlroy.

“We have been criticised and accused of dividing football. On the contrary we are trying to bring it together and that is why the discussions with the senior clubs are taking place.

“We want to allay their fears and reach a compromise.

“That’s why we have taken legal advice to see if we can do something in terms of tweaking our proposals.

“We believe we can and we are confident that we can get the senior clubs on board. For us it’s all about getting agreement with everyone, from the seniors to the ladies to the schools to the juniors. We want to take the IFA forward, not back.”

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