THE NI Football League has tonight (Tuesday) met with member clubs to receive recommended options from the Covid-19 Steering Group regarding the outcome of the 2019/2020 season…
The Steering Group has appraised numerous options available to either resume or curtail the current season against the key principles of health, finance and sporting integrity alongside the impact on the football calendar and timeframe.
Throughout the process the Steering Group continued to recognise that the optimum option to ensure sporting integrity would be to conclude all matches in each division. The Steering Group was challenged by each option as they all impacted the key principles in their own specific way but has endeavoured to provide recommendations in the best interest of the NI Football League.
Confirmation now received that the UEFA deadline for the nomination of clubs for participation in UEFA Club Competitions would be 3 August 2020, alongside confirmation that the IFA were exploring a return to football from week commencing 20 July 2020 to conclude the Irish Cup, plus the clear reluctance of clubs to conclude their remaining fixtures behind closed doors it was considered that an alternative sporting model should be considered.
The Steering Group strongly advocates that the most reasonable, proportionate and fairest solution in the interests of the League would be to conclude Season 2019/20 Premiership campaign in a condensed format with all ‘pre-split’ games being completing to ensure that each club has played each other three times.
The only suitable alternative is to curtail the season immediately and adopt a mathematical formula to determine all league placings. Such mathematical model would be developed and implemented by an independent panel, appointed by the NIFL Board, and must ensure as close as possible that Sporting Merit is achieved as required by UEFA.
The two options presented to clubs:
· Return to conclude the season in a condensed 33 game format (preferred option)
· Curtail the season immediately and adopt a mathematical formula to determine all league placings (alternative option)
Following the club decisions, a proposed start date for the 2020/2021 season will be the next important milestone for the NI Football League. This will require further consultation with the Irish FA, the clubs, and the government as to when we can commence the next season with the opportunity for supporters to be in attendance.
Clubs are requested to return the response on the recommendations outlined by 5pm on Thursday 11th June and following the collation of club decisions the Steering Group will present recommendations to NIFL Board on Friday 12th June.