Institute Chairman Bill Anderson confirms players will have say on return to play
Institute chairman Bill Anderson says Championship clubs will require financial support from the sport’s governing bodies if they are to return to football this season.
Mr. Anderson said talk of possible regional competitions which would allow non-Premier League clubs to prepare for this season’s Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup would have ‘financial consequences’ for clubs who have had little or no football since March 2020.
“The situation from our point of view is this is not a decision that can be made solely at a board level,” explained the Institute Chairman, “Whatever decision we make has to be in conjunction with players and we have mentor meetings all this week where we will be talking to our players to gauge what their feelings are.
“The club has a particularly perspective which is that with the loss of elite status, it’s hard to know how we could play in the Irish Cup because what if they start the competition and then there’s another lockdown, Premiership clubs would be allowed to continue playing but Championship clubs wouldn’t. That’s the first thing.
“The second is we aren’t sure about the regional competition they are talking about. As far as the North West would be concerned, with probably ourselves, Ballinamallard, Dergview, Limavady United, Portstewart and Tobermore all facing each other, there are financial consequences to that, consequences which are demanding at the minute.
“We don’t have any outgoings at the minute but as soon as you start playing matches you have costs. With home matches you have the cost of the stadium and officials etc and then with away games you have the cost of travelling and of course you have to pay players for any matches. There are numerous costs and we would like some sort of confirmation from NIFL that we would receive financial support to be allows us to do that. We couldn’t do it without that support, especially if you are talking about no supporters.
“Those financial costs of being involved in a regional competition would be prohibitive for us and the lack of elite status would be problematic in terms of playing the Irish Cup, as well as the financial consequences, so as a club we’re not sure.”
Mr. Anderson, who said the Waterside club were in contact with their players via Zoom once a fortnight, does believe the regional competition could have merit in terms of competitive pre-season games ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
“If this regional competition was arranged in terms of pre-season preparation or something like that, starting say in July, then you could see the sense of it because it would get everybody back training and playing competitive matches before the new season. However for it just being a sort of precursor to involvement in the Irish Cup, the club won’t be predisposed to that.
“The players may have a different prospective and may say they want to play football but unless there was financial support to do that then I don’t see how any club could do it.”
The Institute Chairman reiterated his belief that the non-elite status for Championship clubs has been proved a huge mistake.
“We all hope that the season will be able to start in August but we believe that elite status is still the key aspect,” added Mr Anderson.
“We are the only league in Europe whose second level of the football pyramid isn’t playing and FIFA recently came out and stated that the pyramid system with promotion and relegation are key to ensuring the sporting integrity of the football system, so you must have at least your second tier playing.
“If we had our second tier playing, the Irish Cup may have been started already. Yes, it would have been without supporters but clubs would have understood that while NIFL and the IFA would have to be working with the Executive in terms providing financial support for teams if they wanted it to happen.”
Meanwhile Mr. Anderson also confirmed that Camilo Sanchez and Alonso Clarke have left the club.
“Unfortunately Camilo Sanchez travelled back to the USA and Alonso Clarke departs next week,” he confirmed, “The ongoing uncertainty relating to Covid regulations and the recent voiding of the NIFL Championship 20/21 season has been particularly difficult for both players who have made such a positive impact on everyone at the club.
“We would like to put on record our sincere thanks to the players for the time and effort they have invested. In addition to their positive attitude and engaging personalities, they clearly have outstanding potential as players. We wish them both well for the immediate future and we hope that they might be able to return to the club under more positive circumstances.”