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Linfield take a stand against any Irish League summer switch

 

By Graham Luney

Linfield have confirmed they are opposed to any proposed move to switch the Irish League season to the summer months.

The Northern Ireland Football League is consulting clubs on potential changes aimed at improving performances in Europe, but the Blues have said no to any radical change.

Linfield would consider a 'slight tweaking' of the Irish League fixtures calender to better prepare teams for continental action but they have kicked the idea of summer football into touch.

"A lot of this is pie in the sky," said Blues chairman Roy McGivern. "We have given our response to NIFL and, after consulting our supporters, we can see no benefits to moving the season to the summer. There is little appetite for it around the league and I believe only Warrenpoint Town are in favour."

McGivern's comments back up Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry's view when he told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday that there was insufficient support for summer football among the top clubs.

The Bannsiders chief and his boss Oran Kearney are big supporters of switching the season to the summer months but most clubs want to retain the winter fixtures, including the popular Boxing Day showdowns.

NIFL is consulting clubs on potential changes, but McGivern added: "There's just no appetite for change.

"We are open to the idea of a slight tweaking to the schedule to help teams involved in Europe but we are against summer football.

"If there's an option to start a little later and finish a little later that could work but we just don't see the benefits of summer football, either financially or in terms of attracting more fans.

"There's a lot going on in Northern Ireland over the summer and it's a time when part-time players take their holidays. I can't see how a part-time league can embrace summer football. The top teams in the south are full-time so it suits them, but our players have jobs and other commitments outside football.

"A lot of this is pie in the sky stuff coming from the Irish FA or the international manager (Michael O'Neill).

"In my mind, a move to summer football would be criminal. I think people love the Christmas games as well, there is a great atmosphere and we want to keep those great occasions."

Belfast Telegraph

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