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Linfield reject 'opportunistic' calls for UEFA prize money to be shared between Irish League clubs

 

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Linfield chairman Roy McGivern

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern has rejected what he declares 'opportunistic' calls for European prize money to be split between Irish League clubs this summer.

The Irish FA will be awarded three lucrative places in UEFA competition at the end of the 19/20 season, worth at least £200k to each of the clubs.

With the campaign suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is as yet unclear whether or not the league or Irish Cup competitions will be played to a finish.

There are still seven rounds of Premiership action to take place, while the Irish Cup, whose winners would be awarded a Europa League spot, has only reached the semi-final stage.

It is thought that, if the season is declared finished with no further action, the top three clubs in the table as it stands would be awarded the European places; Linfield, Coleraine and Crusaders.

David Jeffrey, whose Ballymena side is one of the four Irish Cup semi-finalists, had added to former Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce's calls for the significant prize-money to be split between the Irish League clubs.

 

However, McGivern does not agree.

"This club, along with others, has invested heavily to improve our performance and to enhance the position of the Irish league within a European context," he said.

"It is imperative, therefore, that European places and the resulting revenues are awarded solely on merit and we would reject what we view as opportunistic calls for a wider distribution of European incomes this season."

McGivern also confirmed that Linfield's players and key staff have been placed on furlough leave, although the Blues are not alone in Irish League circles as Big Two rivals Glentoran have also availed of the government scheme.

"All local clubs are facing significant challenges in these uncertain times with loss of expected incomes at this important time of the season," continued McGivern.

"We welcome Government support to keep football and other businesses viable."

The Linfield chairman also offered his thoughts and prayers to all those who have lost loved ones or are battling illness during the coronavirus pandemic.

"One of the really positive aspects of this current pandemic has been the hugely inspiring community response, as people have come together to look after the most vulnerable within society and ensure that no-one is left behind or isolated," he continued.

"I am aware that we have people from Linfield including staff and supporters who are involved in the frontline of the Covid-19 response and we salute their amazing efforts in the most challenging of circumstances.

"I would also commend the fantastic efforts of our Academy, Linfield supporters clubs and some individual supporters who have been engaged in community food distribution initiatives and in fundraising for our under pressure NHS."

McGivern also appealed for fans to support the club's funraising initiative for its official partner charity, the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. That can be done here.

The Linfield AGM, normally held on the first Friday in May, has been postponed until later in the year, as is a special Gala Dinner to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the club's European Cup Winners tie against Manchester City.

Belfast Telegraph