Belfast Telegraph

Irish FA's disciplinary prodecures must over overhauled, demands Linfield boss Healy

 

By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy has hit out at the Irish FA's disciplinary procedures after Curtis Allen was allowed to shoot down his side's European dream at Windsor Park.

The Glentoran striker was on target during their sensational 4-3 comeback win over the Blues - a victory which earned them a Europa League play-off final clash against Cliftonville at Solitude tomorrow.

But the former Linfield frontman wasn't on the Glentoran teamsheet four hours before the Big Two showdown.

Temporary manager Ronnie McFall did a quick reshuffle when the IFA Appeals Board rescinded a red card following the striker's dismissal against Dungannon Swifts last month.

Allen had been sent off for violent conduct at the tail end of his side's 4-2 win and was issued with a three-match ban.

Glentoran's first appeal was dismissed but then the IFA Appeals Board reached a majority view that "the appeal should be allowed and the red card issued to Mr Allen rescinded".

The Appeals Board ruled that the referee - Shane Andrews - had, in their view, made "a clear and obvious error".

Healy certainly wasn't pointing the finger at Glentoran, but he insisted the Irish FA need to get their act together in terms of how they handle disciplinary issues.

The Belfast Telegraph also understands that members of the Irish FA Disciplinary Committee, who issued the three-match ban for violent conduct, are disappointed and shocked by the Appeals Board decision.

Linfield have been denied a shot at the £200,000 European jackpot but it appears the club don't have the appetite to contest the matter through arbitration.

Northern Ireland legend Healy feels the disciplinary procedures need to be improved or the game's image will be tarnished.

"We have a good advertisement for local football in this country," said the Blues boss.

"It is well showcased in terms of media coverage, the IFA and NIFL have done a great job in promoting the game and everything is well sponsored and well organised - we have a good product.

"The Irish Cup final on Saturday was a great occasion and a credit to the organisers.

"But we are lacking badly in other areas. The way disciplinary matters are handled leaves a lot to be desired - the Curtis Allen one is the latest bewildering decision.

"Things need to be addressed. It's is not sour grapes in any shape or form after our defeat on Tuesday.

"We were not good enough on the night, but I find it a strange decision (allowing Allen to play) considering it was made four or five hours before kick-off.

"Glentoran contested the decision. That's what clubs do, they want their best players to be playing in the big games. But that's only an example."

Healy believes that Danske Bank Premiership clubs should be given priority when it comes to disciplinary matters.

"I understand all the other leagues are important," he added. "They have all got individuals or volunteers looking after their own affairs.

"Let's start at the top to get it right. The Premiership is our showcase league and should be treated with respect.

"The disciplinary side of our game is currently all over the place. Managers, players, board members and even supporters just want clarity on certain decisions. There are too many times when clubs don't know if players are suspended or not - or who has appealed decisions.

"A player may pick up a fifth yellow card on the first Monday of the month and his suspension doesn't kick in for three weeks.

"Surely there is enough technology in the game to change that. Referees are well paid. If they can't get an email to an IFA official by the Sunday morning after a game to inform them who has been booked or sent off, there is something wrong.

"When the suspension list does arrive, we get 40 or 50 names of players from Sirocco Works to Killyleagh FC. That is no concern of mine.

"All I want to know is if we have a player on it, I don't care why Joe Bloggs has been booked 15 times and when his suspension starts.

"There is enough technology these days to have all information relayed by Sunday to someone in the IFA.

"If David Healy picks up a booking on a Saturday, which is his fifth, then he misses the following game on Tuesday night - it's simple. That's the way governing bodies work in England and Scotland, and I would imagine also in Wales.

"That's all managers and clubs ask for."

Healy added that he was gutted by his team's final instalment of the season - which had huge financial implications - and has promised changes for next season.

"Taking away the financial aspect, to have the experience of playing against European opposition is a learning curve for the players, but we'll not have it next season," he added.

"It gives the players a chance to bond and gel.

"But we have just not been good enough.

"We need new bodies at this club, we need to strengthen in most areas.

"I think our final performance summed up our entire season. Some players can become stale, so it's up to me to change it."

• Linfield Ladies kicked off the defence of their NIFL League Cup trophy with a 7-0 quarter-final victory over Crusaders Strikers at New Midgley Park yesterday.

Kirsty McGuinness (2), Ali Smyth (2), Chloe McCarron, Louise McDaniel and Lauren Robson were the goalscorers.

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