Belfast Telegraph

Linfield's Premiership trip to Cliftonville could take League Cup final's Sky Sports slot


Calendar: Barry Gray’s Cliftonville are due to face Ballymena on Saturday
Calendar: Barry Gray’s Cliftonville are due to face Ballymena on Saturday

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville and Linfield will play in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Solitude next Saturday evening if the League Cup final is rescheduled.

The decider, pencilled in for Windsor Park on February 17, will be put back if the three-times postponed semi-final between Ballymena United and the Reds at The Showgrounds falls victim to the freezing weather yet again on Saturday.

That will mean next weekend's scheduled Danske Bank Premiership game between Barry Gray's side and Linfield would take the 5.30pm kick-off slot allocated to Sky TV for a live broadcast.

Originally scheduled for December 12 and rearranged for January 16, the final-four clash between Ballymena and the Reds was postponed for a third time on Tuesday night when the Sky Blues' pitch was again deemed unplayable.

Several clubs are now waiting to see how their fixtures will change with the league programme affected over the next two weekends.

After talks involving both clubs and the NI Football League, it was decided there should be a fourth attempt to play the game at The Showgrounds on Saturday, meaning Cliftonville’s trip to Warrenpoint Town moves to Tuesday and Ballymena’s home game with Ballinamallard United is postponed, with a new date to be confirmed.

The Reds were angered by the late postponement of the semi-final on Tuesday evening.

After the pitch was declared playable by official Evan Boyce at 2.30pm, the game was axed at 5.45pm following the arrival of match referee Keith Kennedy.

Because Cliftonville will now be in midweek action, their encounter with Linfield, originally set for next Friday night, has been rearranged for Saturday, subject to the Reds’ League Cup exploits.

If Cliftonville defeat the Sky Blues this Saturday, their encounter with David Healy’s side will be put on the back-burner because the Reds will be playing Dungannon Swifts in the cup decider — but if it’s Ballymena who progress to the final, Linfield will visit Solitude, with a contingency plan in place for a 5.30pm kick-off if United and Cliftonville are frozen out again this weekend.

One game that has been rearranged for February 17 and is not dependant on any League Cup permutations is Carrick Rangers v Warrenpoint, which had previously been set for the previous night but has been put back due to Town’s midweek engagement with the Reds.

Belfast Telegraph


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