UTV Podcast: The plans for Irish League summer football switch

On 20 September the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) launched its new five-year strategy titled "A bold and brighter future for professional football.'

One of the key takeaways from NIFL's new strategy is, in their words, a desire to 'lead and implement a change to the professional game playing calendar.'

This could mean moving the current Irish League season, which runs from August to April to one more centered on the summer months.

NIFL Chief Executive Gerard Lawlor said the organisation is doing it to make the game better and not just for the sake of doing it."

But what exactly are the benefits of switching the league to a summer schedule?

Jordan Moore is joined on the latest edition of the UTV Podcast by sports journalists Mark McIntosh and Kevin McLaughlin to discuss just that.

Kevin McLaughlin has covered the Republic of Ireland's top flight for decades, which switched to a summer league in 2003, while Mark specialises in Northern Irish football.

Both discuss the impact summer football would have on European qualification for clubs, how warmer, brighter nights should lead to increased attendances and the possibility of increased TV money.

Kevin has seen first hand how summer football has played out in the Republic and he says the Irish League should jump at the opportunity and go all out.

Mark Mcintosh is fully behind the switch to summer football but believes that attitudes in Northern Ireland need to change for it to be successful.

"To me, a lot of clubs here have a part-time mentality,"

"I think there will be push-backs everywhere because it is change, but I think people will buy into it when they see it works, but you cannot do this for one year.

"You need a minimum of three years to give it a proper chance.

"I've been a journalist for more than 20 years and it seems like this discussion comes up every so often but we never actually do anything about it, lets do it."

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