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IFA must do more to help our clubs fight in Europe: Gray


Cliftonville manager Barry Gray
Cliftonville manager Barry Gray

By Steven Beacom

Cliftonville manager Barry Gray believes if Irish League clubs are to do better in Europe they need more assistance from the Irish FA in terms of finance and resources.

Despite being in positions of hope after the first legs of their first round Europa League qualifying ties, Cliftonville, Coleraine and Glenavon all exited the competition on Thursday night, losing to full-time sides FC Nordsjaelland (Denmark), Spartak Subotica (Serbia) and Molde (Norway) respectively.

Earlier in the week, Crusaders were knocked out of the Champions League by Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets and now enter the Europa League second qualifying round, where they will be underdogs against Olimpija Ljubljana of Slovenia.

Cliftonville boss Gray feels investment from the top is vital.

“The IFA in my opinion should be backing the teams in Europe, and I’m not just talking about finance. Financial support and football support goes hand in hand,” said Gray.

“Where do I get a challenge match in July that prepares me to play a team in Europe? Where is the support from the Association that would give the best preparation for every Irish League side? Could they with their knowledge and contacts organise teams to come in and give you the games you need?

“We have a relatively successful international side, and I also wonder if the senior staff with their experience could be used in some sort of support network for clubs in Europe.”

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