IVAN Sproule and his Ballinamallard United counterpart Harry McConkey have teamed up with all other Championship managers asking the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) to support the re-grading the NIFL Championship to ‘elite’ status with immediate effect.
The twelve bosses released a statement today entitled ‘One Voice One Game’ demanding an urgent meeting with NIFL and the Irish FA.
In the statement the managers claim that players and coaches, many of them professional, are being discriminated against by the non-elite grading of Championship football while football authorities and government have granted elite status to clubs in the Premiership.
The statement points out that the NIFL Championship is classified as ‘senior’ by NIFL and “a professional league” by the Irish FA. They say this is exactly the same definition as the NIFL Premiership and they further endorsed their argument by saying that Sport NI define elite status as someone who “plays in a professional league or competition or derives a living from competing in sport.”
The statement emphasises the point that there are currently 70 players who are on professional contracts playing in the second tier of local football.
The statement read, “Many of our clubs, players and coaches have ambitions to reach the Premier division. We feel we have been let down by both our local government and our football authorities in relation to our attempt to start our league campaign because of our inability to do so directly linked to the elite status issue.”
FULL STORY IN TOMORROW’S ULSTER HERALD