Linfield general manager Pat Fenlon says the Covid-19 pandemic will not derail the club's plan to adopt a more professional full-time model.
he global health crisis continues to cause disruption to the game and the Blues had to put plans to launch their five-year strategy on ice back in March when the bug arrived in Northern Ireland.
In fact, one Blues player contracted the virus and the Danske Bank Premiership was shut down and never resurrected with David Healy's side handed the title in circumstances that pleased no-one.
Linfield's Champions League assault has already been affected by Covid-19 with last week's preliminary round tie in Switzerland being called off when two players from the opposing Drita team tested positive.
Clubs are treading carefully through this pandemic and following all the necessary health protocols while also trying to prepare for huge European tests.
The Blues face a tough assignment at Polish giants Legia Warsaw, who strut their stuff at the Polish Army Stadium though there will be no supporters in attendance tomorrow.
The absence of fans is a sad reflection of the hard and worrying times we are living in but at least Linfield's European journey has begun and if it's anything like last year's, supporters will be on the edge of their seats at home.
Healy's heroes progressed to the Europa League play-offs where they just stumbled at the final hurdle against Qarabag and it was a reminder of what Irish League sides can achieve on the European stage if they marry belief and talent with hard work.
The club's five-year strategy is aimed at strengthening Linfield's position within the domestic game, but also enabling it to become a more powerful force in Europe where the big money can be grasped.
Fenlon accepts the pandemic poses great challenges for clubs but he's confident Linfield's project will not be seriously impacted.
"We had spent a bit of time on the five-year plan and were due to launch it in March and obviously things changed," said the former Shelbourne, Derry City, Bohemians, Hibernian and Shamrock Rovers manager.
"I'm sure it is something we will revisit very shortly. The plan is still to try to move towards a full-time model which best fits the football club.
"Obviously we have to look at all aspects of it after what has happened this year but the objective is still to bring the club forward, move towards a full-time set-up and make decisions that are clearly in the club's best interests.
"It is a difficult time for people in all walks of life and that includes football clubs.
"It is affecting all of us and we have to be careful in our attempts to secure the club's future. There shouldn't be major changes to the plan but we are mindful of all the challenges we face."
The challenge facing Linfield tomorrow night is a formidable one but they have the comfort of knowing they will drop into the Europa League qualifiers should they lose the one-leg showdown.
The winners will be at home to either Armenia Ararat or Omonia Nicosia and the losers will enter the draw for the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
Uefa gave the Premiership champions a bye into the first qualifying round of the Champions League after their tie with Kosovan side Drita was called off.
The preliminary round final in Nyon was postponed just over an hour before kick-off after a second Drita player tested positive for Covid-19.
As pleasing as it was to progress in the tournament, players want to make memories on the pitch - like they did last year.
"The European run last year was incredible and to put in the performances we did against those quality sides was a brilliant achievement," added Fenlon, who was appointed the club's general manager in 2018.
"The players and staff deserve tremendous credit and, of course, the supporters played their part and enjoyed it.
"You want to keep making strides at home and in Europe and we are delighted to progress to the first round proper.
"It will be a very tough tie against Legia Warsaw but we showed last year we can rise to the occasion and match top teams.
"Rosenborg was a difficult game for us and this will be the same but we have a chance and, while we are under no illusions how tough a game it will be, the squad will be prepared as best they can and it's a one-off game with no fans.
"Their fans create a great atmosphere and it will be helpful for us to play in an empty stadium away from home.
"Away teams have done well but this is a big, big task for us. It's a one-off cup final and we also have the comfort of knowing we have another European game even if we lose this one.
"I've never been to Legia Warsaw, they played a few teams from the Republic and we know they are a very good side.
"I think everyone is looking forward to the fact that it is a one-off challenge and we want to progress as far as we can in the Champions League."
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