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Linfield fans consider boycotting opposition grounds after season conclusion rows



Some Linfield fans are considering a boycott of opposition grounds when the Irish League returns. (Stock image)

Some Linfield fans are considering a boycott of opposition grounds when the Irish League returns. (Stock image)

Some Linfield fans are considering a boycott of opposition grounds when the Irish League returns. (Stock image)

Linfield supporters are considering boycotting the grounds of a number of opposition teams when football eventually returns.

In a rocky week for Irish League football, some Blues fans believe there has been an agenda against their club and may vote with their feet, which would hit other clubs in the pocket.

The Windsor Park outfit are renowned for bringing a large travelling support to wherever they go, providing much-needed revenue for smaller clubs.

There are no official plans at the moment, but one source told Sunday Life Sport that "Linfield fans have been disappointed and angry at some of the developments of the past few days".

Linfield and Coleraine, who are the top two in the Danske Bank Premiership, are against sharing UEFA money with the other 10 clubs, which was a proposal put forward at a meeting of the 12 top-flight teams on Thursday.

The source added: "If the League does not finish, I know some Linfield fans who wouldn't be content with us being crowned Champions. There are other Linfield fans who believe we are top now and deserve to win the title if no more games are played.

"What everyone seems to be together on, however, is that they have not appreciated the treatment of our club in some quarters this week.

"We want to be treated fairly and don't feel that has been happening, which has led to some fans talking about boycotting certain opposition grounds in a form of protest whenever games take place again.

"Obviously we want to cheer our team all over the country, but there are opinions amongst our support that some of the stuff that has been going on in the Irish League does not seem right.

"We shall see what happens next. Ideally you don't want to go down that road, but the fact that it has been talked about shows the strength of feeling in our support about recent events."

The Linfield board has a meeting scheduled for this evening and chairman Roy McGivern says his club will be 'exploring a credible way of ending the season'.

"We must look for a credible way forward to end the League season which every club can hopefully buy into," says Linfield chief McGivern.

"It's no secret that Linfield and Coleraine were the clubs pushing to not have the European money distributed.

"Our manager and players would love to end it on the pitch, but that's probably unlikely based on the current guidelines from the NI Executive.

"A decision is required by the end of July, as nominations for European places are needed by August 3, so it's difficult to see how we could get the League finished in that timespan."

McGivern admits his club initially backed the NIFL's proposal of playing out two remaining fixtures, which was dismissed by nine other clubs.

"It was a difficult meeting of the 12 clubs," he continued. "By the end of the meeting, at least all 12 clubs agreed to the NIFL recommendation to take a step back to possibly explore any other avenues of bringing this matter to a conclusion.

"This could do long-term damage to the League in terms of its credibility.

"We have a duty to see if there is scope and an appetite of finding a way to take us forward."

McGivern is adamant a decision is needed sooner rather than later.

He explains: "The NIFL Board will make a decision on what way is the best way of ending it once they learn the outcome of the UEFA recommendations on Wednesday.

"Obviously, we have our own views on how that should be done in a credible way - and they are consistent with UEFA views on sporting integrity.

"Time is now of the essence. To be fair to the NIFL Board, they called it right by deferring their decision because they wanted to buy more time for clubs.

"The Government's guidelines are changing on a weekly basis as things begin to improve in terms of getting us out of the lockdown.

"I think they were right not to rush into things, like Scotland, Wales and some other European Leagues. They were right to wait and see what developed and what the possibilities were.

"There could be some form of football possibly by the end of July or early August, albeit behind closed doors.

"The bottom line is we need a decision soon on how we end this season and, more importantly, how we then plan for next season.

"We haven't had football since March. Players haven't been training properly since then.

"Our understanding is there will be some form of European qualifying games taking place, potentially in either August or September.

"We'll know their plans after Wednesday's meeting and it will then be down to the NIFL's Premier League committee to make the decision. Hopefully, it's one that all clubs can agree to."

Belfast Telegraph