| 11.8°C Belfast

Sharing UEFA cash is the only fair decision if Irish League season is voided: Mick McDermott

 

Close

Helping hand: Mick McDermott wants Uefa money to be split if European spots are awarded without the league being completed

Helping hand: Mick McDermott wants Uefa money to be split if European spots are awarded without the league being completed

Helping hand: Mick McDermott wants Uefa money to be split if European spots are awarded without the league being completed

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott has added his voice to calls for Uefa money to be shared among clubs - if the domestic season is cancelled.

 

Football in Northern Ireland is currently suspended until May 31 and Uefa have given the Northern Ireland Football League a deadline of May 25 to submit their plan for the restart of the season.

Entry to Uefa club competitions will be "based on sporting merit" and all national organisations have been urged to do all they can to "bring competitions to a natural end".

With no prospect of football returning anytime soon due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the danger of the season being cancelled is very real.

It's also debatable whether Irish League clubs will be competing in Europe this year.

Decisions have now become medical rather than football-related, but it has been suggested by former Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce and Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey that if the three Premiership sides are 'awarded' the European places, then some Uefa money could be distributed to other clubs. It would be viewed as a generous gesture at a time when all clubs are struggling.

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern, though, has stated: "It is imperative 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."

At the moment, seven clubs can qualify for Europe through the league or Irish Cup and four of them - Glentoran, Cliftonville, Ballymena United and Larne - would cry foul if the top three sides - Linfield, Coleraine and Crusaders - pocketed all the funding.

Glens chief McDermott says a distribution of Uefa money if the league cannot be finished is fair and he feels it is a decision NIFL can make, even if Linfield do not approve.

"Uefa's guidance is that leagues should make every effort to complete the season," said The Oval boss. "I only see three scenarios: the season is voided; we play behind closed doors; or the games are played with fans.

"If the season is voided then first, second and third in the league will be awarded European places. If that happens, then I agree with David Jeffrey and Jim Boyce, split the money.

"If the matches are played, the teams that qualify for Europe have earned the money and can keep it. It's based on merit.

"If the season is voided then I can understand the argument for sharing the European money. If the proposal to split the funds goes to a vote it's NIFL, not Linfield, who will make the decision. Who will vote against it?

"If the top three clubs were handed European money and it wasn't shared then you could have a legal case because we have seven clubs who can still qualify for Europe.

"All the league games and Irish Cup matches would need to be played for the European places to be determined on merit.

"I can't see how any reasonable person can think anything else.

"Teams aren't winning league titles but you can be awarded a European place and agree to share European money."

The problem Irish League chiefs are wrestling with is that the important on-pitch issues are unresolved and will remain that way unless matches are played.

In the meantime, clubs are under financial pressure and using the government's Job Retention Scheme. Glentoran tabled £60,000 bids for Cliftonville frontman Joe Gormley and Ballymena United's Adam Lecky in January but McDermott accepts clubs will now need to adapt to a new financial reality.

"I think transfer fees and salaries will go down," he added.

"That's not just the Irish League, that will happen across the board from League Two in England to the Premier League. The pay scale for football will be pushed down across the board.

"I hope agents are hiding in caves. Why not use this time to review, restructure and revamp for the good of the game?

"Look at where the money is in football, who's putting into it and who is taking out?

"Let's cap the takers. Why are clubs paying astronomical sums to agents? Players will drop down the leagues and if they are asking for too much money they could be forgotten about. We've had an overinflated market for years from the highest levels. Players deserve to be paid but not some of their inflated wages.

"Without the health of the football club, nothing survives and there's no revenue at the gate in a game behind closed doors. How can you pay a monthly wage bill with zero income?"

Belfast Telegraph