Key UEFA decision for clubs - states Institute chairman Bill Anderson

The Mayor, Councillor Michaela Boyle, pictured at the launch of the Five Year Strategic Plan by Institute Football Club in the Guildhall earlier this year with, from left, Patrick Nelson, IFA, Brian Dougherty, Institute, Bill Anderson, Institute Chairman, and Liam Beckett, who was the MC for the evening.The Mayor, Councillor Michaela Boyle, pictured at the launch of the Five Year Strategic Plan by Institute Football Club in the Guildhall earlier this year with, from left, Patrick Nelson, IFA, Brian Dougherty, Institute, Bill Anderson, Institute Chairman, and Liam Beckett, who was the MC for the evening.
The Mayor, Councillor Michaela Boyle, pictured at the launch of the Five Year Strategic Plan by Institute Football Club in the Guildhall earlier this year with, from left, Patrick Nelson, IFA, Brian Dougherty, Institute, Bill Anderson, Institute Chairman, and Liam Beckett, who was the MC for the evening. | jpimedia
Institute chairman Bill Anderson admits the club will be ready to make whatever crucial decisions have to be made following tomorrow’s UEFA meeting.

’Stute, like all football clubs throughout Europe, have been in lock-down since the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) suspended the Irish League season until April 4th in response to the evolving situation around Coronavirus (Covid-19).

“Once we knew that games were cancelled for the next two weeks, we decided to let everything sit last weekend and then consider all the advice coming from the national, regional and local government and also from the professional footballing bodies, IFA and UEFA,” he insisted.

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“What we have done at this first stage is we have informed the players there will no training until at least Tuesday of this week and obviously there will be no training facilities open in the council area for the next few weeks.

“As a Board, we are of the opinion things are unlikely to return to normal at that stage, so we have to think about how we go forward but we are delaying a decision on that until after the UEFA meeting on Tuesday.

“That meeting will involve all 55 UEFA countries and obviously some recommendations will be put out at the meeting. Then, whatever the decision from UEFA and the national bodies is, will be communicated to us presumably later on Tuesday so we’ll meet on Wednesday to formulate a plan going forward.

“But it’s very difficult at this point in time to make decisions or to predict the future whenever the situation is so uncertain and changing.

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“I don’t know what the outcome (of the UEFA meeting) will be but as far as I understand it there will be a number of proposals on the table.

“One will be that the season finishes as is but that there will be no implications in terms of relegation because obviously teams at this point in time can still get out of the relegation zone and I’m not just talking about Institute, I’m talking about all leagues.

“There will be I think probably a proposal that if the Euros are postponed until 2021, then the plan maybe to play the rest of this season out over the summer months .

“There might be a third option on the table, but until the UEFA meeting takes place and then NIFL and the IFA meeting, we are in a ‘wait and see’ situation.”

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Anderson conceded that most clubs in the Irish League rely heavily on money through the turnstiles and admitted ’Stute are no different meaning he certainly wouldn’t be in favour of games taking place behind closed doors.

“Clubs at our level, were 80 per cent of our income is gate money, if there’s no gate money coming in that means it would be very, very difficult for clubs,” he explained.

“We haven’t spoken to our players yet about that. Again, we are waiting until after the UEFA directive on Tuesday because there’s no point in jumping the gun or saying ‘if this happens, then that won’t happen’. I think at that point you are into speculation, which is often unhelpful.

“However, I would imagine that most Irish League Premiership clubs would have great difficulty in being able to maintain weekly wages for players if they haven’t got the income which they would normal receive from gates. There’s a NIFL meeting on Wednesday night following the UEFA meeting on Tuesday and I would have a feeling that will be an issue that will be addressed there.

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“Personally, and this is not a club perspective, but I feel playing behind closed doors games is just silly,” he added.

“Pep Guardiola has already made the point that it’s madness to be playing footballbehind closed doors and i agree. Players don’t like it and not having fans at our match is just silly. Personally I would not be in favour of playing games behind closed doors.

“What you are also doing with behind closed doors games is incurring additional costs for clubs and with no income, that’s really problematic.”

Anderson stressed the wellbeing of everyone connected to the club, from players to staff and supporters, is the most of important time during Coronavirus.

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“For me the wellbeing of our players, fans and staff is more important than actually playing a game of football. I agree with NIFL and the IFA’s decision to cancel things for the foreseeable future. It would be completely irresponsible to put people at risk, it just doesn’t make sense.

“What we have told the players is to try and do some fitness work to keep their fitness up and more importantly stay safe and well.”

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