Colin McKendry: Irish League needed to reveal leadership but screening can bring back confidence to continue
“It’s simply football, it’s not life and death – the Northern Ireland Football League needed to act.”
That’s the view of Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry, who recognised the requirement for the Danske Bank Premiership to start a two-week pause last Saturday.
While the Irish League’s leading tier is permitted to continue behind closed doors as it’s classed as elite by the NI Executive, issues at the deepening health crisis raised by gamers, authorities and referees required the football body to call a halt to proceedings.
There are blended views within the game over whether the season must have been stopped, but everyone accepts the pandemic positions a significant health danger to a video game played mainly by part-time gamers.
NIFL and the Irish FA are checking out Covid-19 screening options prior to training is scheduled to return on Monday however it will come at a considerable cost.
NIFL board chairman Gerard Lawlor has estimated tests might cost around ₤ 75. For a squad of 30 personnel, the weekly figure might be as much as ₤ 2,250 per club or ₤ 27,000 for all 12 clubs weekly.
For a six-week duration, the cost could reach ₤ 162,000 – nevertheless, the Irish FA would endeavour to bring those expenses down.
McKendry believes testing needs to offer gamers greater self-confidence and he insists this short winter season break was the best call.
” I’m dissatisfied, however often your head needs to rule your heart,” said the Bannsiders chief who is on the NIFL board.
” We required to be accountable and show leadership. Concerns had been raised by gamers, authorities, backroom staff, which was getting momentum.
” I believe we did need to do something and I feel the right decision was taken.
” It’s sport and, while it is very important for psychological health, there are bigger concerns out there.
” It’s simply football, it’s not life and death – the Northern Ireland Football League had to act.
” We do get so passionate about it we can forget about reality and what is happening now needs us to make essential decisions.
” Testing is type in all of this. With the testing, and hopefully the numbers will drop, we wish to bring the league to some sort of a conclusion.”
With the infection spreading out more easily in the community, the Irish League was never ever going to escape it, however clubs have done whatever within their power to reduce the threat and the need to adhere to procedures is now higher than ever.
” We had screening throughout the European video games and it provides you some self-confidence,” added McKendry.
” You require to handle the virus if it’s picked up. Numerous people do not realise they have it and before you understand it teams need to self-isolate.
” However we aren’t residing in a bubble. We expect our gamers to be socially accountable and follow the protocols.
” Before the break we had no testing so there was no self-confidence we were going into matches without the infection.
” It’s not the answer to everything however it’s better than what we have at the moment.”
While Linfield supervisor David Healy questioned whether or not a complete 38-game season is possible in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph, McKendry is refusing to let go of the clubs’ No1 target just yet.
Carrick Rangers have played only 9 matches, while Cliftonville are the only side to reach 13 fixtures up until now ahead of the set up resumption on Saturday, January 23.
” I wouldn’t wish to finish it at 22 video games,” he said.
” I wish to make it to 38 but it will be hard as we run out of match days.
” I do not believe we can quit on 38 up until the dates go out. The dates are close to going out but we’ve got to play as long as we can.
” I would say never ever state never ever till 38 video games ends up being physically impossible to do.”