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Irish League model to end the season got it wrong, insists Glens manager McDermott

 

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Glentoran manager Mick McDermott

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott

�INPHO/Declan Roughan

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott

Mick McDermott insists "something went wrong" as he reflects on one of the most momentous weeks in the history of Irish League football.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused mayhem with the season, with the Danske Bank Premiership halted with seven games remaining and the Irish Cup to be settled.

Tensions have been ratcheted up several notches in recent weeks with accusations, counter-accusations, Twitter spats, threats of legal action and club representatives at each others' throats.

The unseemly affair came to a head last Sunday morning when an alliance of Premiership clubs fell apart and a decision was made to end the league immediately and complete the Irish Cup next month.

Institute were condemned to relegation, with one team coming up to the Championship and, curiously, no Premiership play-off game.

After seeking independent advice on how to settle the tables using a mathematical formula, on Friday night the Northern Ireland Football League announced the top three of Linfield, Coleraine and Crusaders would remain unchanged.

The lamentable saga has left a sour taste in many corners, with some relationships damaged beyond repair and many questions remaining unanswered.

Glentoran had put forward a proposal to finish the season when safe and to use a 22-game model to settle European prize money distribution, having come to an agreement with Cliftonville to share the bulk of the prize money.

"All I would say is every suggestion we made was based on the three principles: the health and safety of players and staff, the financial viability of completing the season and sporting integrity", said McDermott, who is a director of Glentoran as well as a manager.

"In my view, what has taken place over the last seven days does not meet those three criteria.

"Nobody wanted the League to be decided on a mathematical formula. That's what we ended up with, so something went wrong, obviously.

"Solidarity was a buzzword and we tried to bring something forward that would tie in the point number two, financial viability.

"In any company or group, someone has to bring a suggestion forward for discussion among the group and carry forward to a conclusion.

"Ten clubs were involved in that process, but it did not come to a successful conclusion.

"I don't have any issue with the recommendation on the final placings announced on Friday night, for two reasons; one, because the decision was made by the clubs, and two, if you're going to end the League now, it's better to go with the current 1-2-3. Why would it be any other way?

"From our perspective, we are ready to play in the Irish Cup. We aim to win it and get into Europe. If we don't manage that and another team does, good luck to them."

The collapse of the 10-team alliance caused consternation among some of the clubs, with many representatives and chairmen left scratching their heads.

Sunday Life has taken soundings from many of the clubs involved and has been told that fear, fatigue and finance were all factors.

"Everybody was mentally drained come the meeting last Sunday", explained one club source.

"Nobody could agree on anything.

"Bear in mind that all the chairmen and club representatives are volunteers, many with full-time jobs, and they have given up hours on meeting after meeting.

"There was a fear about possibly losing European prize money and some of the smaller clubs were also acutely aware of the finance Linfield and their supporters bring each season through the turnstiles and didn't want to risk a boycott."

Belfast Telegraph