NIFL seek clarity from NI Executive on fans return to stadiums

Gerard Lawlor
Incoming NIFL CEO Gerard Lawlor Credit: Presseye

Incoming Northern Ireland Football League CEO Gerard Lawlor has urged the Northern Ireland Executive to provide 'clarity' to clubs in regards to the number of spectators allowed at Irish Premiership matches when the campaign gets underway next Friday night.

Speaking at the launch of the new Irish Premiership season, the Cliftonville Chairman believes it is time for larger numbers to return to Irish league grounds.

"At NIFL we must show responsibility, we are in the middle of a world health pandemic. To come out and make irresponsible demands I don’t think reflects well on the league but we need answers."

"I think NIFL throughout the whole campaign have dealt with government, we’ve supported an approach, we haven’t put pressure on, we’ve known what the Northern Ireland Executive has been dealing with but there are a lot of confused people running about this event tonight. "

"NIFL is the league, we need direction from councils, from the Executive, we need direction from the Irish FA. So there is a lot of confusion and a lot of people’s patience are running out and that is the key I’m finding here tonight. We’re saying to people we can’t give directions because we don’t have it."

"I think in the coming days, and it’s far too late even to do it in a couple of days, because we have been trying to do it we definitely need some direction and if it’s reduced crowds, at least tell us it’s reduced crowds and we can deal with that but at the moment there’s no answers."

The Super Cup was played in front of 13,000 spectators at Windsor Park Credit: Presseye

With a number of large events taking place across Northern Ireland in recent weeks including the Super Cup between Chelsea and Villarreal which was played at Windsor Park in front of 13,000 spectators had added to the confusion.

“The justification cannot be there for reduced crowds anymore when they’re able to put 13,000 people from two different countries outside of NI able to come together last week and basically party." said Lawlor.

"You cannot now tell an Irish League supporter you cannot go to your local club, you cannot go to your local team and support them but we’ll let other people do it. Honestly now I can see no reason why spectators would not be allowed into football games.”