Niall Currie has claimed that clubs outside the Premiership aren't going to get a 'fair crack of the whip' in this season's Irish Cup as the number of teams pulling out of the competition continues to grow.
Currie's former club Ards joined H&W Welders, Institute, Newry City, Queen's University and Dundela in publicly declaring they will not be playing in the flagship knockout competition this year and they may not be the last ahead of the Irish FA's scheduled April start.
Dundela were drawn to face holders and east Belfast rivals Glentoran in the first round but they pulled out on Wednesday.
At present there are just 14 teams left outside of the Premiership and none of them can even train until March 31 because of Covid restrictions.
Currie believes they will all be under prepared for the matches no matter what happens because under normal circumstances clubs are working for two months before kicking a ball in competitive action.
"My thoughts are just the same as any logical person. I can't see how the Championship clubs are getting a fair crack of the whip at it," said Currie.
"How are they going to train? How are they going to get their players fit?
"It takes me six or seven weeks in pre-season and eight or nine games to get my players up to playing at Premiership level, and that's giving them half a match here, half a match there, building it up to 60 minutes then 90 minutes."
Currie also knows more than most about Championship football, having managed Annagh United, Ards, Loughgall and Portadown in the second tier before joining Carrick and guiding them to promotion.
Teams from the second tier and below have only played matches during a short window from August to October and those at Championship and Premier Intermediate League have been denied league action.
The feeling that there was a lack of support when Championship clubs appealed to be granted elite status so that their season could kick off is, however, being cited as the major reason why clubs have pulled out and Currie is relieved his team isn't in that position.
"It's very, very difficult for them and I am just glad I don't have to make those decisions," said Currie.
"I have every sympathy for any club making those decisions at this time."