Belfast Telegraph

Time to stop moaning and improve local football in Europe

By Conor McLaughlin

As complaints go, it's a pretty common one.

From the upper echelons of the Irish Premiership right through to the grassroots level of the game, we repeatedly tell ourselves that UEFA couldn't care less about this little footballing backwater of ours.

They make us play European qualifying fixtures barely a week into the school holidays, force our champions to enter the continent's premier club competition a full two rounds before fourth-placed teams from other nations, weight the procedures to ensure pesky minnows like ours have long since exited the stage by the time the 'proper' teams get involved and hold the draws weeks after all the competing sides have been confirmed, delivering logistical and financial headaches for Irish League clubs who are handed treks to the back of beyond at a mere 10 days' notice.

When questioned by Sunday Life, a UEFA spokesperson defended that timeframe and also informed us that the continent's governing body didn't know if regionalisation (a system which groups clubs together depending on geographic location) would be implemented for tomorrow's Champions League and Europa League draws, nor the mechanisms behind that process.

Read the full story in tomorrow's Sunday Life

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