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Irish League clubs set to vote on season switch in coming months as Linfield chairman pushes for change


Roy McGivern

Roy McGivern

Roy McGivern

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern has argued that it is still possible to move the Irish League season to the summer months and it’s a battle worth fighting for.

The Premiership Management Committee has established a sub-committee tasked with considering options and it’s hoped a proposal can be brought forward for clubs to vote on.

McGivern is on the sub-committee and he has expressed support for a campaign running from April or May through to January. But there has been resistance to implementing seasonal change and finding a consensus is a formidable challenge.

The full-time clubs who usually qualify for European football have been broadly supportive of a summer season while sides lower down the league remain unconvinced.

Traditional Boxing Day derby fixtures still hold an appeal, while it’s argued that better weather will attract bigger crowds and clubs will be more competitive in Europe if the fixture calendar changes.

Although opinion has been divided on this issue, Blues chief McGivern maintains a summer season is still within reach.

“I’m part of the Premiership Management Committee’s sub-committee looking at the issue and five people have been tasked with taking things forward,” said McGivern.

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“I am keen to do that. I know what I would like to see happen, however it is a balanced group of those for and against change.

“I’m hoping we can bring forward some sort of recommendation to the Committee within the next two or three months.

“I’m glad to see it’s moving on and we have something in place. I have my own agenda, while others will have their own views.

“The important thing is that clubs have an opportunity to vote on a recommendation and we can move forward one way or another.”

A Belfast Telegraph survey of players at the 12 Danske Bank Premiership clubs found a small majority in favour of an Irish League season played during the summer months, but the results also underline how opinion is split across the league.

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott has been a passionate supporter of seasonal change but he has made the case for a March to November campaign, similar to the League of Ireland.

He previously stated: “To me, the League of Ireland has the right calendar — March to November and you wrap it up for the winter and start again.”

A NIFL spokesperson said: “The Premiership Management Committee have recently appointed a sub-committee to revisit the seasonality of the league and the group of club representatives on the sub-committee are currently reviewing previous research and documentation.”

Meanwhile, Dale Taylor’s surprise Northern Ireland appearance will not open the door to extra finances for the Blues.

Taylor moved from Greenisland FC to Linfield to continue his development before sealing a move to Nottingham Forest.

The gifted teenage striker made his senior international debut when he came on as a substitute against Lithuania at Windsor Park.

Taylor, who turns 18 on December 12, moved to Forest in the summer of 2020 and has impressed for the Under-23 side.

“There is nothing in Dale’s Northern Ireland appearance for us,” added McGivern. “Most of the add-ons are in terms of appearances for Nottingham Forest and sell-on clauses.

“We are delighted to see Dale play for Northern Ireland and everyone at Linfield is excited to see how his career unfolds.”

Glentoran, meanwhile, have confirmed the signing of striker Michael O’Connor, who recently left newly promoted Shelbourne in Dublin.

Michael, whose brother Ciaran is at the club, will be eligible to play for Glentoran once the transfer window opens in January.

McDermott said: “I’m delighted to have got Michael signed and I know he will increase our attacking options for the second half of the season. It’s well known that we tried to sign him when he left Linfield and following that, so it’s great to finally get him. Michael is well known to most of our players, and he knows the league as he’s been to quite a few of our matches this season, along with Ciaran.

“I’ve said all along that when good players become available, we’ll be in for them. That will continue to be the case.”

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