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Irish League fixture changes: Kick-off tweaks and Ballymena's away shift confirmed by NIFL

 

The first set off of altered kick-off times and venue changes for the new season have been announced by the NI Football League.

On top of the usual moves from Saturday afternoon to Friday evening kick-offs, Ballymena United's home fixtures have been switched to away games until October.

That's due to the relaying of the pitch at the Warden Street venue, which follows several complaints over the state of the surface in the past few seasons. The pitch's dimensions have also been extended to ensure that any future European ties could be held at the Showgrounds.

Their ties against Crusaders, Ards, Warrenpoint Town and Glentoran have all been changed, meaning Ballymena will play their first nine Premiership games away from home.

The Braidmen, who finished sixth in the table last season, have to travel to all five of last season's other top half finishers before they take to their home turf for the first time, with visits to Coleraine, Glenavon and Linfield also pencilled in before the end of September.

Their first home game is now scheduled for October 6 when Newry City are the visitors to the Showgrounds.

There are hopes that the Sky Blues could potentially play their County Antrim Shield first round tie at home on September 18, provided they are out of the hat first, however it is likely that tie would also be switched away from Ballymena.

Several fixtures have also had their dates changed from Saturday afternoons to Friday nights following the announcement of the fixtures at the end of last month.

Institute's trip to Linfield and Newry City's game against Dungannon Swifts have both been brought forward a day to August 10, while Glenavon's visit to the Newry Showgrounds has also been moved a day forward to August 17.

Coleraine's match against Institute and Ballymena's trip to Glenavon will now be played on August 24, with Institute's trip to Newry now scheduled for October 19.

The Danske Bank Premiership begins on Saturday 4 August, with the Bluefin Sport Championship kicking off on Saturday 11 August and the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League a week later, on Saturday 18 August.

Here are all the early changes to the fixture list:

Danske Bank Premiership

Friday 10 August 2018: Linfield v Institute (kick-off 7.45pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 11 August

Friday 10 August 2018: Newry City v Dungannon Swifts (kick-off 7.45pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 11 August

Saturday 11 August 2018: Crusaders v Ballymena United (kick-off 3pm) – reversed venue from Saturday 27 October

Friday 17 August 2018: Newry City v Glenavon (kick-off 7.45pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 18 August

Saturday 18 August 2018: Ards v Ballymena United (kick-off 3pm) – reversed venue from Saturday 22 December

Friday 24 August 2018: Coleraine v Institute (kick-off 7.45pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 25 August

Friday 24 August 2018: Glenavon v Ballymena (kick-off 7.45pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 25 August

Saturday 1 September 2018: Warrenpoint Town v Ballymena United (kick-off 3pm) – reversed fixture from Saturday 23 March

Friday 19 October 2018: Newry City v Institute (kick-off 8pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 20 October

Saturday 27 October 2018: Ballymena United v Crusaders (kick-off 3pm) – reversed venue from Saturday 11 August

Tuesday 30 October 2018: Ballymena United v Glentoran (kick-off 7.45pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 15 September

Saturday 22 December 2018: Ballymena United v Ards (kick-off 3pm) – reversed venue from Saturday 18 August

Saturday 23 March 2019: Ballymena United v Warrenpoint Town (kick off 3pm) – reversed venue from Saturday 1 September

Bluefin Sport Championship

Friday 10 August 2018: Loughgall v Portadown (kick-off 7.45pm) – originally scheduled for Saturday 11 August

Friday 7 September 2018: Knockbreda v Dundela (kick-off 7pm) – originally scheduled for 7.45pm kick-off

Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League

Saturday 1 September 2018: Sport & Leisure Swifts v Queens University (kick-off 3pm) – reversed venue from Saturday 23 March

Saturday 23 March 2019: Queens University v Sport & Leisure Swifts (kick-off 3pm) – reversed venue from Saturday 1 September

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