Institute appeal to IFA against their relegation and slam NIFL board
INSTITUTE have lodged an appeal with the Irish FA against their relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership, accusing the NIFL Board of "a dereliction of their duty to protect the interests of all NIFL clubs."
The Drumahoe outfit - who had to play their 'home' games at Derry City's Brandywell - were demoted after the decision to apply a simple points-per-game solution to come up with the final standings in the Premiership, Championship, and Premier Intermediate Leagues.
Bottom of the table, Institute trailed Warrenpoint Town by just three points with seven matches remaining unplayed.
Institute, in a detailed statement, argue that the NIFL Board "failed to implement a 'least harm' solution to the curtailment of the current season" and that expansion of both the Premiership and Championship to 14-teams for at least one campaign should have been given greater consideration.
Addressing concerns that such a scenario would leave three teams to be relegated next year, 'Stute suggest following the Danish model which make it "equally possible that only two, or even one team could be relegated, depending on the outcome of a series of end of season play-offs."
Institute state that "whilst this proposed model was circulated to all Premiership clubs, it was not discussed in detail because of the perceived time pressures involved in reporting to the NIFL Board, and the apparently more important issues of UEFA nominations and financial fair play in relation to the distribution of any associated financial gain."
Overall, Institute say that the enforcement of relegation is "a missed opportunity to provide a positive end to what has been a very difficult season for clubs and a horrendous three months for the general population and the communities that we represent."
Institute said the club is "grateful for and encouraged by the tremendous support voiced by other NIFL clubs, managers and chairmen in relation to the recent decision by the NIFL Board to enforce the automatic relegation rule whilst choosing to ignore or reinterpret a range of other NIFL regulations.
"Even more encouraging has been the response of the great majority of ordinary football fans, many of whom have taken to social media to voice their support for our club and their beliefs about the injustice of the NIFL Board decision.
"As a club, we have always argued for a 'least harm' solution to the curtailment of the three NIFL leagues, based on the principles of sporting integrity and solidarity.
The promotion of teams who have fought hard all season to achieve that objective and were on track to get there or be in a play-off position, was part of that 'least harm' proposal.
"However, an equally important part of that proposal was that there should be 'no relegation' for teams who still had the potential to avoid it if the season had been played to its natural conclusion."
Advocating how the Danish leagues are run, Institute point out that is a model used by a country currently standing at 13th in the UEFA coefficient table compared to Northern Ireland's 48th position, and that it has a number of benefits:
"Firstly, while it is possible that three teams might end up being relegated, it is equally possible that only two, or even one team could be relegated, depending on the outcome of a series of end of season playoffs.
"In addition, the Danish model has the benefit of reducing the number of games towards the end of the season which have little or no importance, other than the personal pride of the teams involved.
"Indeed, the increased importance associated with these games provided by the Danish model would almost certainly lead to increased gate receipts and potentially additional broadcast media income for the league."