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Irish League season needs ended now with UEFA money shared to help protect all clubs, says Dungannon Swifts chairman


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)

Dungannon Swifts chairman Keith Boyd will tell the Danske Bank Premiership Management Committee on Wednesday night that the 19/20 season should be brought to an immediate close with UEFA prize money shared.

The campaign is currently suspended until the end of the May with Coleraine chief Colin McKendry last weekend suggesting a plan to conclude the campaign using only Windsor Park and the Ballymena Showgrounds.

The Stormont Executive’s five point plan to easing the lockdown sees competitive sport return only at Step Four, with full use of stadiums permitted in the final step.

The exact timeline of those is unknown, although First Minister Arlene Foster told the Assembly that she was hopeful Step Five could be in place by December.

Dungannon chairman Boyd says that the announcement should put an end to any lingering hopes that the current campaign can be played to a close.

“I’ll be voting that the season’s over, end of story,” he said. “Everybody needs to agree because if we can do that, then we can move on to sorting everything else out.”

Solving the ensuing issues could, as Boyd admits, be easier said than done. Those would include the potential crowning of league champions, promotion and relegation and, of course, nominating teams for European places.

It is expected, in the event of the season coming to a premature end, that the top three teams in the table as it stands would be nominated for European places; Linfield put forward for the Champions League with Coleraine and Crusaders for the Europa League.

While UEFA officially have not yet considered scrapping the European qualifiers, Boyd is less optimistic about the chances of those games taking place and, as a result, says the financial rewards should be shared in order to protect the future of all NIFL clubs.

“You can’t have the league with three teams at the top pocketing that money while everybody else is struggling,” he said. “I would start even in the lower leagues with £5,000 each or something like that. At least that keeps the electric bills, insurance paid and maybe a bit of pitch maintenance.

“At least you know then that those clubs are going to be there in another year’s time.

“Morally, it’s wrong (for the top teams to keep all the money). I don’t think there will be European qualifiers for the teams to play in so they won’t have those expenses. Even if Dungannon got £20,000, then that would keep us right until we get football started again.

“We don’t want to come back and have teams getting beaten eight or nine to nil, but you could have those few teams at the top with the money and the rest struggling.

“Yes, they deserve to get more than we do, I’ve no problem with that, but if we can get something smaller I’m happy. It keeps clubs going and we can start again next year.

“It’s not about money, it’s about the product two years down the line. You need all of the teams and some could go to the wall.”

It is expected that proposals on how to end the 19/20 campaign will be put forward at the Premiership Management Committee meeting.

Belfast Telegraph