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Irish League clubs may still get chance to play in Europe this year, insist UEFA



UEFA is monitoring the coronavirus pandemic. (Jamie Gardner/PA)

UEFA is monitoring the coronavirus pandemic. (Jamie Gardner/PA)

UEFA is monitoring the coronavirus pandemic. (Jamie Gardner/PA)

UEFA has insisted that it has not considered scrapping the early rounds of European qualification.

Rumours had suggested Irish League clubs nominated for Champions League and Europa League action may miss out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the continental governing body has insisted it has no intention on denying qualifiers from any country the right to participate.

A statement read: “UEFA has never considered depriving domestic champions of their genuine right to try to achieve qualification through on-pitch performance for the UEFA Champions League Group Stage.

“UEFA wishes to clarify that it is currently simply monitoring the evolution of the situation and any potential impact on the format of qualifying rounds for next year’s club competitions.

“To date, no specific options have been developed for the format of qualification for European club competitions.”

The Irish League must submit its plans for the conclusion of the 19/20 season, or reasons for its premature end, to UEFA by May 25.

If the season is not due to be played to a finish, NIFL must explain how the decision was reached due to 'legitimate reasons' such as a government order preventing sports matches or financial ramifications that could see clubs detrimentally impacted by returning to the pitch.

Failure to do so could see the Irish League stripped of its European places and cash injection for 2020.

Providing UEFA's stipulations are met, the Irish League will nominate three qualifiers based on sporting merit, such as the top three teams in a points per game table.

That scenario has caused argument over the destination of the European prize money, which Linfeld chairman Roy McGivern insists should go entirely to the three qualifiers. That view is not shared by the likes of Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey, who says the money should be shared between teams across the league.