Linfield will break new ground next month by playing all their Danske Bank Premiership games on Sundays because of their European commitments.
In an historic move, the title holders will host Portadown at Windsor Park on August 14, 24 hours after the new season officially gets under way.
After that, David Healy’s boys will travel to Newry City and Carrick Rangers on August 21 and 28 respectively.
The Blues, of course, will feature in the third qualifying round of the Europa League against FC Zurich on Thursday night at Windsor Park following their exit from the Champions League.
Blues Chairman Roy McGivern stressed that club members voted to change the ‘never on a Sunday’ policy two years ago.
McGivern says: “When we had the run in Europe a few years back when we almost made the group stages of the Europa League when losing out on goal difference to Qarabag, we brought it to the Club’s Annual Meeting.
“It was passed with 96 per cent support from our members. We took the decision then on the anticipation of this happening — we are now bang in the middle of European commitments with the League programme about to start on August 13.
“So this was fully anticipated and the members fully endorsed it — there are no issues at all. It’s either play the League games on Sunday or postpone the games, which would leave the manager with a backlog of fixtures.”
McGivern admits the club had to play catch-up the last time they had a prolonged European run.
“We fell something like four games behind,” he adds. “The manager stated he wanted to play the games and not fall into a situation of a backlog of matches.
“Other clubs have had to adapt, Rangers and Celtic in Scotland for instance. They play on a Thursday and then on Sunday. Yes, it will be change for Linfield. The Portadown game will be the first ever at Windsor Park on a Sunday.”
In the event of the Blues reaching the group stages of either the Europa League or the Conference League, it would mean that Sunday football could be a regular staple this side of Christmas.
“You have to compete in your domestic League, so it doesn’t make sense to postpone games,” explains McGivern.
“It will be a challenge for us, playing Thursday/Sunday, but that’s what we must do.
“We approached NIFL a few weeks back, they were very accommodating and the three clubs involved — Portadown, Newry and Carrick — were also most accommodating.”