Bill Anderson confirms Institute stand by their Irish Cup decision
Institute chairman Bill Anderson is adamant the club will be sticking to their original decision not to compete in this year’s Sadler’s Peaky Blinders Irish Cup.
Earlier this month ’Stute became the fourth Championship club to withdraw from the 2021 Irish Cup, joining H&W Welders, Queen’s University and Newry City in pulling out of the competition which is due to be played to a finish in May.
However, this week the Irish Football Association contacted all clubs to clarify that ‘elite’ status would be granted to all teams taking part in this season’s competition and stated the door remained opened for teams who had withdrawn to compete. Despite the offer, Mr. Anderson said nothing had changed as far as his club is concerned.
“Yes, the IFA sent a letter out to all clubs and while we spoke about it again as a club, the players, coaches and at committee level, we have basically arrived at the same decision so there’s no change in our status,” insisted the Institute Chairman.
“In fact, if eight out of 12 Championship clubs made the decision to void the league, only a few weeks ago, then our club’s view is that playing in the Irish Cup is contradictory in terms of that original decision.
“Hopefully now we will be able to regroup and get ourselves ready for the 2021-22 season.”
Mr. Anderson also stressed the need for the Northern Ireland Football League and the IFA to put something tangible in place regarding the start of the 2021/22 season for Championship clubs in order to ensure those teams are able to play next season.
“The players feel harshly treated, disrespected,” he added, “We are probably the only second tier league in Europe not to be playing football.
“People forget about this but the key to next season is that there is some agreement in place that, should another lockdown occur, there must be a procedure to ensure Championship clubs can still play on. Now, whether that’s elite status or an agreement between NIFL and the government doesn’t matter, but we need some assurances that the 2021/22 season will continue without interruption,” he insisted.
“We have been asking that question for months. There is a group of chairmen who would speak about it and have put pressure through their representatives on the NIFL board.
“To be honest I think the IFA realise that it is a problem but it all goes back to the initial decision not to put Championship clubs as elite.”
The ’Stute chairman revealed he’s worried any new players’ boss Sean Connor wants to bring to the club, or players he’s trying to re-sign for next season, may have second thoughts about joining the Waterside club due to an uncertainty over whether they will be playing regularly.
Mr. Anderson said he felt strongly that any decision about next season needs to put in place sooner rather than later and can’t be left until after this season’s comes to an end in May.
“I’m sure we’ll have players thinking to themselves, ‘Yes, I would like to stay at Institute for next season, but I want to be assured that I can play football’, that has to be the bottom line from any player’s perspective,” he conceded.
“There has to be some sort of guarantee otherwise we could be starting a new season, which may well be behind closed doors - we just don’t know, still with this uncertainty. It also looks that any relaxation of the regulations is going to be a slow and protracted process.
“This decision for next season is crucial for the wellbeing of clubs and players and the wellbeing of football in general.”