Soccer chiefs in Covid wait

Soccer chiefs in Covid wait

6 January 2021

LOCAL football chiefs say there is still hope that some type of season can be salvaged, despite the ongoing havoc caused by the spread of coronavirus.

Grassroots sport continues to be left in limbo as to when and how they will be able to get their competitions underway as the spread of Covid-19 continues.

Newcastle League secretary Alan Craig admitted that the recent statistics on infection rates do not give a lot of cause for hope.

”There is no point in us discussing things as to how we may get the league back up and running, when we know the likelihood at the minute is events in government will overtake us.

“Ultimately we are still in the same situation as we have been for the last several months.

“When you see the rates of infection, there is certainly not much there to encourage us that we are going to get away from this problem soon. We have in essence been in a lockdown-type situation for a long time. 

Even so, Craig said Newcastle League officials are not yet throwing in the towel in trying to devise a way for a season to be played.

“Any decision we make with regards to how and when we can get football back up and running again will be taken in conjunction with our clubs.

“We need their input on how they feel about the situation, and there needs to be a want from the clubs to get back to playing as well. All of those things will be up for discussion within the league committee when we know where we stand.”

Amateur League chairman Terry Pateman says he has not yet given up hope of getting some sort of season put together over the next few months.

“We are still essentially working blind,” he said. “We are trying to devise ways of starting the new season before we know what the government are going to decide next,” he said. 

“If there were no further stoppages beyond the dates already in place for us, we could proceed with what would obviously be a shortened season. I am confident we do still have the time to organise something by way of the teams seeing some action.”

A part of the plan the Amateur League are working on is to play into the summer.

“We have a request in with the Irish FA that we be allowed to play our season into June,” confirmed Mr Pateman. “There has been no response as of yet, but I am hopeful that it would be granted.

“We are trying to think ahead and devise plans that give us a chance of playing. The clubs have been with us in what we have tried to do so far.

“Certainly, if there is a concrete chance of being able to bring something together, we will consult with them again.

“At the moment however, we are not at that stage. We are all still somewhat in the dark unfortunately.”

With the soccer season supposed to have kicked off last August, officials have been left with major headaches.

However Mr Pateman says the Amateur League are not thinking yet about the season being abandoned.

“It has obviously been very tough trying to work out, not just how we can start a campaign, but also how we can do so safely,” he said.

“A plan is still there that we can tweak depending on how things develop with the spread of the virus.

“I am still hopeful we will see some amount of football in the league this year though.”